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State lawmakers pursue 'polluters pay' bill against insurance companies: 'People are very directly seeing their premiums rise'

"It's important to begin to hold [insurers] accountable for how they've played it both ways in terms of climate change."

"It's important to begin to hold [insurers] accountable for how they've played it both ways in terms of climate change."

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Connecticut is considering a new law that could transform funding for fossil fuel projects and climate protections.

Grist reports that a new bill would penalize any insurance company that insures Connecticut-based fossil fuel projects with a fee. The funds would then be used for a "public resilience fund" that could help construct sea walls and other protections against climate disasters. The bill has already moved forward from a committee vote in the Connecticut State Senate.

"It's important to begin to hold [insurers] accountable for how they've played it both ways in terms of climate change," said Tom Swan, the executive director of Connecticut Citizen Action Group, which supports the bill. "People are seeing skyrocketing rates, or they're pulling out of different areas, and they continue to underwrite and invest in fossil fuels at a pace much greater than their colleagues across the globe."

If approved, the bill could lead to fees on insurers who cover existing gas- and oil-fueled power plants as well as new fossil fuel projects like pipelines and fuel terminals. "I think it's a good policy, but from a narrative-setting perspective, it's really important," Swan reiterated.

Since insurance policies are rising in areas at risk of further climate disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires, it makes sense to introduce these kinds of "polluters pay" laws to help offset the costs of protecting populations from extreme weather events.

"There's a direct question there of, why aren't state-level regulators using more of their power to take local action?" said Risalat Khan from the Sunrise Project, a nonprofit focused on energy transition policy. 

Khan also noted: "People are very directly seeing their premiums rise, in relation to climate disasters."

Connecticut is not the most disaster-prone state, but considering it received over $500 million in federal assistance between 2011 and 2021, the resilience fund would have a clear value.

If approved, the Connecticut law will be one of several promising developments around the world that will help keep civilians safe from natural disasters. 

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Japanese scientists are creating a self-powered sea wall system that can protect populations from tsunamis. Elsewhere in the U.S., architects are making nearly indestructible homes to withstand major weather events, and organizers are helping local communities prepare against natural disasters.

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