John is Executive Director of The Sunrise Project and co-founder of Unfriend Coal, now Insure Our Future, a network of NGOs and social movements calling for insurers to divest from and cease underwriting coal.
The campaign has already made significant progress. At least 23 insurance companies, including Axa, Allianz, and Zurich, have already made major new commitments to reduce or eliminate their financial ties with the coal industry. Unfriend Coal’s strategy is to make it harder for coal mines and plants to secure necessary insurance, but also prevents the huge amount of assets under management by these insurers from being invested in coal— at all.
Before founding The Sunrise Project in 2012, John worked for a decade as a campaigner for Greenpeace and, before that, with Friends of the Earth. John is a serial entrepreneur and has founded numerous environmentally focused small businesses and side projects.
John is largely credited with developing and implementing a strategy to stop the expansion of the coal export industry in Australia. With the coal industry widely seen as a bedrock of the Australian economy, we were particularly impressed with the audacity of his ambition and his ability to systematically implement a long-term social movement strategy to achieve it.
John was thrilled by the opportunity Climate Breakthrough gave him to generate new out‐of‐the‐box campaigns to yield significant climate emissions reductions. He quickly started investigating a variety of ideas for new climate campaign interventions through a creative mapping process. After narrowing his focus to the financial sector, John decided to start by working to harness the power of social movements to shift insurance finance out of fossil fuels.