Insurers pull US$20bn coal investment
Written by staff reporter
A number of major insurance companies have pulled $20 billion from investments in coal and a growing number are refusing to underwrite new coal projects, with Zurich announcing it will divest from and cease offering insurance to companies which depend on coal for more than 50% of their business.
Swiss Re and Lloyd’s have also committed to announcing new policies in the coming months. In all, 15 insurers with over US$4trn in assets have now taken or are planning action on coal, divesting an estimated US$20bn in equities and bonds or ceasing to underwrite projects, according to Unfriend Coal.
Whilst the shift away from coal is underway, the campaign says early movers still need to do more, and points out that most insurers have yet to make any moves; no US insurer has taken action, nor have major European companies such as Generali, Hannover Re, Chubb and Mapfre.
Peter Bosshard, Unfriend Coal coordinator, said: “Coal needs to become uninsurable. If insurers cease to cover the numerous natural, technical, commercial and political risks of coal projects, new coal mines and power plants cannot be built and existing operations will have to shut down. Insurers also manage $31 trillion of assets, and by shifting investments from coal to clean energy they can accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Katya Nikitenko of Greenpeace Switzerland, said: “The role of insurers is to manage risk for society, but the vast majority are still failing to take action to prevent dangerous climate change. We welcome the measures which early movers have taken, and call on the laggards to immediately take steps to stop underwriting climate change.”
AXA was the first global financial institution to shun investments in coal in 2015 but has since been overtaken by insurers that apply stricter criteria. In April this year AXA also became the first insurance company to announce that it would no longer underwrite coal projects.
Sylvain Vanston, Head of ESG integration at AXA, said: “At AXA we believe that unsustainable business is not only uninvestable, it is also uninsurable business. This is why we adapt and extend our coal mines and coal plants-related investment restrictions to our insurance business, as we do with other sector restrictions.”