Insurers are putting coal industry under pressure

Insurance companies around the world are ending insurance for coal companies, mines and power plants, according to Unfriend Coal’s second annual scorecard on the coal industry.

Unfriend Coal’s second annual scorecard ranks 24 of the world’s biggest insurers on their action on coal and climate change, looking in particular at their policies on underwriting and divestment.

Swiss reinsurance giant Swiss Re ranks highest for the most comprehensive policies on both coal insurance and divestment. In 2016, it decided to divest from companies relying on coal for more than 30 per cent of their mining income or power generation, and July 2019 it announced that it would no longer offer them insurance cover.

Italian insurance company Generali came in second place, followed by Swiss insurer Zurich.

According to Unfriend Coal, at least 19 major insurers with more than $6 trillion in assets – 20 per cent of the industry’s global assets – have divested from coal, up from $4 trillion and 13 per cent one year ago. However, action is not evenly balanced across the globe. While most major insurers in Europe have by now taken action on coal, none of the nine leading insurers in the US assessed by Unfriend Coal have taken action.

“US insurers are betraying their shareholders, their customers and the wider public by continuing to support fossil fuels,” said Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. “They should follow the lead of their European peers who realize that coal is a bad investment, causes thousands of premature deaths each year, and must be phased out rapidly to avoid dangerous climate change.”

Asia-Pacific insurers also continue to insure and invest in coal, though there are some signs of change: three of Japan’s largest life insurance companies have announced they will no longer fund new coal projects.

Image credit: Rich via Flickr

You may also like...

Leave a Reply