Policy shift: Insurers blacklist coal


PARIS, Dec 2, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The number of insurers turning their backs
on coal more than doubled in 2019, activist groups said Monday, sapping the
viability of projects using the highly-polluting fuel.

Coal exit policies have been announced by 17 of the world’s biggest
insurers controlling 46 percent of the reinsurance market and 9.5 percent of
the primary insurance market, said the Unfriend Coal campaign, a coalition of
environmental groups, as it released its third scorecard on the sector.

“This action is having a tangible impact,” it said, citing brokers as
saying that costs are increasing to insure coal facilities with certain
projects already being unable to obtain any coverage.

Increasing operating costs put coal — the dirtiest fossil fuel and
biggest single contributor to human-made climate change — at a commercial
disadvantage. An inability to buy coverage makes it impossible to raise
finance for new projects.

The report pointed to the struggle the Indian group Adani has had to find
insurance to develop the huge Carmichael coal mine in Australia, noting that
at least 16 international insurers have ruled out underwriting the project.

“The industry’s retreat from coal is gathering pace as public pressure on
the fossil fuel industry and its supporters grows,” said Peter Bosshard,
coordinator of the Unfriend Coal campaign.

However, he noted that major US and Asian insurers continue to insure and
invest in coal projects.

“All responsible companies must make coal uninsurable by ending support
for both new and existing mines and power plants,” added Bosshard.

France’s AXA was the latest to announce plans to exit coal, pledging last
week to make a complete pullout from coal investments by 2040.

Reinsurance firm Swiss Re was the top-ranked firm for both its coal
insurance and divestment policies.