News Non-Life07 Dec 2018

Australia:Insurers face environmentalists' pressure on coal projects

07 Dec 2018

Thirty global insurance companies have been called upon to publicly rule out any insurance services for Indian mining multinational Adani's coal mine and associated rail project in Queensland -- in light of its potential climate, social, and broader environmental impacts.

The call was made in a letter by 73 organisations, representing a combined membership of more than 76m people, reported World Coal. The letter was announced at a press conference at COP24, the UN climate talks which are being held in Poland.

Adani has tried to raise bank financing for the project, but 37 global financial institutions, including all Australia’s major banks, have declined to lend. On 29 November, the Adani Group announced plans to self-finance the project which it has reduced in scale.

This leaves insurance as a critical missing piece of financial support for the project.

Seven leading insurers have already announced that they will not insure new coal mines and plants: Swiss Re; Generali; Zurich; Allianz; AXA; SCOR; and Munich Re.

Insurers ranked on coal policy

Separately, Unfriend Coal, an international alliance of environment groups, has ranked 24 of the world’s biggest insurers on their action on coal and climate change, assessing and scoring their policies on underwriting, divestment and other aspects of climate leadership.

Unfriend Coal notes that Asia-Pacific insurers continue to insure and invest in coal, although there are the first signs of change. Three of Japan’s largest life insurance companies, Nippon, Dai-ichi and Meiji Life, have announced they will no longer fund new coal projects. Australia’s QBE is currently reviewing its coal underwriting and investment policies. No leading US insurers have taken action on coal. Companies like AIG, Chubb, Liberty Mutual and Berkshire Hathaway continue to underwrite and invest in the industry.

Unfriend Coal's 2018 Scorecard on Insurance, Coal and Climate Change shows that QBE, the only Australian company included in the report, are among the laggards on action against coal, trailing European insurers.


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