Zurich walks away from investments in coal-heavy firms

Lloyd Doyle
November 15, 2017

Zurich Insurance has joined other top firms in divesting from and refusing to insure coal-heavy businesses, with the insurance industry having pulled out over US$20 billion in the past two years.

In the new scorecard, which rated the 25 insurers on their action on coal and climate change, 15 insurers have already divested approximately $20bn worth of bonds and equities in a bid to reduce their investment exposure to the coal industry, which is said to be the biggest single source of Carbon dioxide emission.

"So far, no American insurer has taken meaningful action on coal and climate change, and even industry giants such as Berkshire Hathaway, AIG and Liberty Mutual have remained completely silent about the catastrophic climate risks affecting their clients", the report said.

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The first-movers, including Allianz, Aviva, AXA and SCOR, are nearly exclusively located in Europe and represent 13 percent of all global insurance assets, and none of the major United States insurers, such as Berkshire Hathaway, AIG and Liberty Mutual have announced similar plans.

Peter Bosshard, Unfriend Coal coordinator, said: "If insurers cease to cover the numerous natural, technical, commercial and political risks of coal projects, new coal mines and power plants can not be built and existing operations will have to shut down". Allianz followed suit several months later, and Swiss Re and Lloyd's are expected to release their action plans regarding coal in the next few months.

Unfriend Coal is calling on companies to adopt a 30% threshold for their own and third-party assets for equities and bonds, with Bosshard adding: "Coal needs to become uninsurable".

The Unfriend Coal campaign, an initiative led by 13 worldwide civil society organizations, calls on insurance companies to reduce exposure to coal in a bid to support clean energy transition.

Insurers have pulled $20 billion out of coal investments, but most are European and none of the top nine USA insurers has taken "meaningful action", campaign group Unfriend Coal said on Wednesday.

"Insurers can play a role in facilitating this generational transition towards cleaner energy by increasingly reflecting the climate-related risks inherent in thermal coal in their underwriting and investment policies".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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