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Insuring Coal No More

The Unfriend Coal campaign calls 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.

Generali stops insuring coal projects...

Following strong pressure from NGOs, the Board of Generali adopted a new coal exit policy on November 9. Under the new policy, Europe’s third largest insurer will stop insuring the construction of new coal plants and mines and stop accepting coal companies as new clients.

After AXA, Allianz, Zurich, Swiss Re, Munich Re and SCOR, Generali is the seventh large insurer ending or limiting their insurance support for coal. Generali’s policy is stronger than some others in that it not only addresses new projects but also new client companies. Unlike the policies of Allianz, AXA and Zurich, it for now doesn’t exclude the coverage of existing coal projects.

In a press release Greenpeace and the Unfriend Coal campaign welcomed the new Generali policy as a sign that coal is increasingly becoming uninsurable. They emphasized that Generali also needs to swiftly drop existing coal clients, particularly in countries like Poland and the Czech Republichia where it has a stronghold.

After Generali’s bold step, it is important that industry laggards – AIG, Chubb, Hannover Re, other Talanx subsidiaries and the specialty insurers on the Lloyd’s market – adopt their own coal exit policies rather than filling the gap left by the climate leaders in the industry. In Generali’s European strongholds, smaller insurers like PZU, Uniqa and VIG also must stop propping up coal projects which undermine the Paris Agreement.

Read the Greenpeace/Unfriend Coal press release here.

... after insuring new Czech coal plant

On November 2, just before Generali adopted a new coal exit policy, Unfriend Coal campaigners disclosed that the Italian insurer along with Vienna Insurance Group (VIG) signed a contract to insure the recently completed 660 MW Ledvice power plant in the Czech Republichia. Both Generali and VIG are insuring the plant through their Czech subsidiaries.

The Ledvice plant, which is owned by Czech utility CEZ, will burn lignite, the dirtiest form of coal, and has a life- span of 40 years. Pollution from CEZ’s coal power fleet has been estimated to cause 800 premature deaths per year across Europe.

According to CEZ tendering documents, Allianz also bid for the Ledvice insurance contract, even if without success. The bid appears to violate the coal exit policy which Allianz adopted in May 2018.

AXA and Allianz found investing in RWE

German power utility RWE is Europe’s largest producer of coal-fired power and the world’s largest lignite miner. It recently provoked outrage throughout Europe by trying to bulldoze the ancient Hambach Forest in order to expand its lignite mines.

On October 26, the CEO of the Norwegian asset manager and insurer Storebrand called on investors to pull out of RWE for environmental and financial reasons. In contrast, the Unfriend Coal campaign found through research conducted by Profundo that Allianz and AXA have invested more than $102 million in RWE bonds and shares since 2016. Further research, soon to be published, is expected to show that the two companies have also made other significant coal investments during this period.

Allianz and AXA have both committed to divest from the coal sector but when it comes to third party assets, Allianz exempts all and AXA much of these investments from their coal commitment. The example of RWE shows that this exemption is creating embarrassing double standards in the insurers’ portfolios.

Upcoming events

Insurance & Climate Risk EMEA, InsuranceERM & Environmental Finance, with speakers from leading insurance companies, regulators and NGOs, including the Unfriend Coal campaign - London, 12/3/2018

Insuring Coal No More: Unfriend Coal media conference at COP24 - Katowice, 12/6/2018

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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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