December 4, 2018 Read More →

Study: U.S., U.K. insurers lagging in coal divestment efforts

The Guardian:

UK and US insurers are lagging far behind European firms when it comes to divesting from coal-heavy businesses and refusing to insure them, campaigners have warned.

At least 19 major insurers holding more than $6tn in assets – a fifth of the industry’s global assets – have now divested from coal, according to a report from the Unfriend Coal campaign, which represents a coalition of a dozen environmental groups including Greenpeace, 350.org and the Sierra Club. This is up from $4tn – equivalent to 13% of global assets – that were covered by coal exclusion policies a year ago. The study rates 24 of the world’s biggest insurers on their efforts to distance themselves from the fossil fuel industry.

A growing number of insurers are taking action, faced with mounting losses from disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires, whose frequency and severity has increased due to a warming climate. Global losses reached $337bn last year, including insured losses of $144bn.

The report found that Europe’s four biggest insurers have restricted insurance for coal. Germany’s Allianz and Italy’s Generali limited underwriting this year, while French firm Axa tightened its policy further. A third of the global reinsurance market has also restricted cover for coal, with the reinsurance firms Swiss Re and Munich Re limiting their underwriting this year.

UK insurers, though, have made less progress than European firms. Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, has done nothing to encourage its syndicates to stop insuring coal or sell their coal investments, the report said, although it excluded coal from the investment strategy for its own central fund in April.

Across the Atlantic, none of the nine leading US insurers have taken any action. In Japan, there are the first signs of change, as three large life insurers – Nippon Life, Dai-ichi Life and Meiji Yasuda Life – have announced they will no longer fund new coal projects.

More: Insurers in U.K. and U.S. lagging behind in divesting from coal, report finds

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