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Insuring Coal No More

The Unfriend Coal and Insure Our Future campaigns call on insurance companies to stop underwriting and investing in climate-destroying coal projects. This monthly newsletter shares campaign highlights on climate, coal, and the insurance industry. 

Insurers under pressure not to insure Trans Mountain Pipeline

The insurance contract for the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, whose expansion is the most contentious project in Canada’s history, will come up for renewal at the end of August. A global coalition of 32 environmental, Indigenous, and citizen groups is calling on the companies currently insuring the pipeline (including AIG, Chubb, HDI, Liberty Mutual, Lloyd’s, Munich Re and Zurich) and other potential insurers not to insure the pipeline or other future tar sands projects.

While Generali ruled out support for the contentious project, Zurich informed the groups that it would continue to insure the pipeline. In response, Tzeporah Berman of commented that “there is no path forward where Canada can build the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and meet its global climate commitments”. Campaigners plan to hold Trans Mountain insurers to account once the new certificate of insurance becomes available to the public.

Aon and Marsh asked to end support for substandard Vietnamese coal project 

Developed by Sumitomo, the proposed Van Phong 1 coal power project in Vietnam would generate electricity at a capacity of 1,320 megawatts. The plant would emit air pollutants at a level much higher than permitted in Japan, the US, Europe or China. According to Greenpeace, it would cause approximately 1,900 premature deaths over its 30-year operating life. Forced displacement for the project, which has not yet reached financial close, has caused ongoing legal action.

Sumitomo and the lenders of Van Phong 1 are advised by Marsh and Aon, respectively. At the end of June, Market Forces and the Unfriend Coal campaign called on the CEOs of the insurance brokers to advise their clients not to proceed with the project, withdraw their own involvement and “cease brokering insurance for all new coal power projects”. Marsh and Aon have not yet responded to the NGO letter.

Despite announcing a new policy signalling their intent to shift from coal, Sumitomo reinforced their intent to go ahead with Van Phong 1. This makes it more urgent than ever for insurers like Aon and Marsh to live up to their climate change commitments and withdraw support for this polluting project. 

Suncorp ends insurance for coal

At the end of July, Australia’s Suncorp was the 16th major insurance company to exit the coal sector. According to the new policy, Suncorp will no longer insure, finance or invest in new thermal coal mines and power plants, and will not underwrite any existing thermal coal projects after 2025. 

Suncorp adopted its position after Market Forces filed a shareholder resolution asking the company to report its fossil fuel exposure at its annual general meeting in September. As Market Forces’ Pablo Brait commented: “Suncorp’s dumping of coal means there is now not one single major Australian insurer willing to provide insurance for new, climate-wrecking thermal coal projects”.

Axis Capital plans to reduce coal exposure

After Chubb adopted a policy restricting its support for coal in early July, Axis Capital signalled that it may follow suit soon. In response to an inquiry by Bermuda’s Royal Gazette the company said: “Axis will introduce an environmental policy with the expectation that we will reduce our exposure to coal. We are presently conducting extensive research that includes engaging with our internal and external stakeholders to shape a policy that aligns with our collective aspirations and values.”

Axis also said it would continue to support renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, adding: “This includes continuing to invest in our renewable energy business, where Axis is already a top-five global player.”

After QBE and Chubb, Axis Capital, whose CEO is a member of the Lloyd’s Council, would be another specialty insurer on the Lloyd’s market to adopt a coal exit policy.

Company mascots protest inaction by US insurers

At a meeting of state insurance regulators in New York, the mascots of insurance companies joined a protest organized by the Insure Our Future campaign to ask Liberty Mutual, AIG and other US insurers to build on Chubb’s first step and ditch their support for coal and tar sands projects. Read the press release here.


Take action: Tell AIG to stay out of the Adani coal mine!

Scores of financial institutions have committed to stay out of the Adani Group’s giant proposed Carmichael coal mine in Australia, or have adopted policies to this effect. Even insurers which don’t have coal exit policies such as Liberty Mutual and FM Global declined to cover the project. One institution is conspicuously absent from the list: AIG has refused to rule out insuring the Carmichael carbon bomb. Please sign the petition launched by SumofUs telling AIG not to insure the Carmichael coal mine.

New to the monthly Insuring Coal No More newsletter? Subscribe for free here!
Got a news story or campaign action you want us to share? Email Peter Bosshard and we’ll look at including it in our next newsletter. 

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