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FFD - Norwich Union withdraw £6.1 billion from Fossil Fuel Industry

Norwich Rising Tide | 02.04.2008 15:26 | Climate Chaos | Globalisation | Social Struggles | Cambridge

On 31st March, Norwich Rising Tide started the fossil foolery early.

Leaflet Front
Leaflet Front

Leaflet Back
Leaflet Back

Step One - we sent out a spoof press release (see below) announcing that Norwich Unions would be withdrawing all of its £6.1 billion investment in the fossil fuel industry – yes they really do invest that much is fossil fuels! You name it – BP (£1.4 billion - 2% ownership of the company), Shell (£1.1 billion), Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Chrysler, British Energy, Centrica, Eon, BMW… the list goes on and on.

Step Two – we organised a press conference to spread the word further, outside the front entrance of the Norwich Union HQ. This really set the cat amongst the pigeons and Norwich Union emailed all there staff to say “Rising Tide are planning possible action against Norwich Union … the group will carry our disruptive activities … and will possibly attempt to interact with employees”. Heaven Forbid … actually interaction! Won’t that require extra, extra back up policing. Sure enough when we arrived at Norwich Union we were greeted by numerous police (including some of the Forward Intelligence Team who had decided to come from London to Norwich for a day out).

At the press conference ‘Norwich Union Communications Director, Sarah James’ gave a beautiful speech (see below) explaining the change in Norwich Union investment policy, which thoroughly confused the press (they very nearly bought it!).

All that remained was to give out the 50 Norwich Union ‘Apology Sandbags’ which had been delivered and to handed out over 300 leaflets to passers by (see below).

On a personal note – it was a fun day out and best of all our research into Norwich Union revealed who the biggest fossil fool in Norwich truly is! Watch this space.

Norwich Rising Tide.


Norwich Union to announce £6.1 billion withdrawal from fossil fuel industry

Embargo: 00.01 AM, Monday 31 March

On Monday, Norwich Union will announce a dramatic change of company policy.

In 2007 Norwich Union invested £6.1 billion in the fossil fuel industry, £1.4 billion in BP alone. After last summer's heavy flooding, the company’s Chief Executive, Mark Hodges, has decided to withdraw Norwich Union's investments from this sector.

Norwich Union Communications Director, Sarah James, announced: “The company has realised that investing £6.1 billion worth of insurance premiums in BP, Shell and other major oil, coal and car companies is unsustainable in the current climate. In the past we have been indirectly exacerbating the flooding and other extreme weather events that are now making homes increasingly uninsurable.”

Norwich Union will mark the announcement with a period of public apology for past investment decisions, by issuing ‘Norwich Union Apology Sandbags’ free to all home owners who now face greater flood risk as a result of fossil fuel induced climate change. Members of the group Norwich Rising Tide will be on hand to help Norwich Union distribute the first 60 ‘Apology Sandbags’ after the announcement on Monday.

Photo opportunity: Monday, 31 March, 12.15 PM, Norwich Union (Marble Hall entrance).

Can This Be True?
Has Norwich Union come to its senses? Or does this event mark the start of Fossil Fools Day (1), a day of direct action against the fossil fuel industry and its financial backers?

David Watson, of Norwich Rising Tide, today said: “Financial institutions like Norwich Union that funnel money into the fossil fuel industry have stood in the shadows for too long. Today, we are joining with thousands around the world in taking creative direct action to prevent the fossil fuel economy from destroying our future. The only real solution to climate change it to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

The photo opportunity is real, and the apology sandbags are ready to go.
The only question is - will Norwich Union accept its responsibility for climate change and help us to distribute them?

Contact:, 0795 144 4545


Welcome ladies and gentlemen.

I am here today to announce a landmark decision that puts Norwich Union at the very forefront of responsible business practices and, we believe, makes it a world leader in the financial sector. This announcement will change a lot about the way Norwich Union does business, and will impact our customers, investors, and all of our corporate partners.

Before I go any further, I want to tell you a story. It’s about Mark Hodges, the CEO of Norwich Union Life.

Last summer, Mr Hodges’ wife had a baby, their first child. They planned a holiday to their summer home to spend time with their new baby. But their summer home was in Tewkesbury, and it was flooded last summer. Mr and Mrs Hodges arrived, Mr Hodges cradling the new baby in his arms, to find chairs floating, carpets sodden, and photo albums full of family memories destroyed. Over the course of the next few days, as news of the damage across the country spread, the inevitable finger was pointed to climate change. Watching his new child in her bassinette, Mr Hodge had an epiphany. He did not want his legacy to his daughter to be a world ravaged by climate change. He began to devour everything he could find about the effects climate change might have, here in the UK and around the world. He read about more floods, more droughts, more families’ lives ruined. He read about the destruction of the Amazon and the loss of wildlife. He read about the millions of people who would lose their homes, or their lives. And on his first day back at work after the birth of his daughter, Mr. Hodge made a vow to do everything in his considerable power to prevent these dreadful things from happening – starting with the company he is responsible for.

Mr Hodge looked with new eyes at Norwich Union’s approach to its investment of insurance premiums. He looked at fossil fuel industry – a surefire winner when it comes to return on investment – in a whole new light. And he looked on the Norwich Union investment portfolio with growing horror: Shell, BP, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Chrysler, British Energy, Centrica, Eon, BMW… the list went on and on. In total, Norwich Union’s investment in the fossil fuel industry added up to 6.1 billion pounds. Mr Hodge realised that if his company was 2% owner of BP, it was as complicit in the damage to the climate as BP was. And here, he realised, is where the change must start.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I am extraordinarily proud to stand here today and announce, on behalf of Mr Hodge and the Board of Directors, that from today, Norwich Union will be withdrawing the entirety of its 6.1 billion investment in the fossil fuel industry. [shock horror in the audience]. Please, remain calm. We realise this will come as a major shock to our shareholders and corporate partners. We want to enter into a dialogue with all of our partners about this decision, and Mr Hodges will be making himself personally available to all those with concerns. I will be on hand following this presentation to arrange meetings, and distribute contact details. However, going forward, I appeal all those listening to look to the bigger picture. Norwich Union has always been about protecting our customers’ futures. Today, we are making a policy change that will protect our collective future. I’m sure our shareholders, and indeed all of you here today, will agree with me that protecting our common future, is certainly more important than protecting our bottom line.

But today is not all about the board room and the shareholders. Today, as every day, is about our customers. We realise that the decisions we have made over the past decades have already caused irrevocable changes to our climate. We also realise that many of our customers in the Norfolk area are finding that their homes are now at greater risk of flooding. Therefore, as a token of our deep regret for the role we have played in placing our own customers at greater risk, today we are offering everyone free sandbags to help protect their homes from future flooding. We especially encourage those homeowners who have recently discovered that their homes are now uninsurable to make use of this offer, and it is to them that we extend our greatest apologies.

However, I hope that you all join me in seeing this day not as a day to regret, but a day to celebrate, and a day that we all can be immensely proud of.

Thank you.

I would now like to invite my colleagues to help me distribute our Apology Sandbags.

Norwich Rising Tide
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