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Europe’s 3rd largest insurance company turns away from coal

Generali’s recent announcement about its improved coal exclusion policy puts an end to insuring new coal plants and mines while turning away new coal clients with more than 30% of their energy production or revenues coming from coal.

Generali follows Allianz, AXA and Zurich which all have announced restrictions on insuring coal. Now, Europe’s four biggest primary insurers have limited coverage for the coal industry, supporting the phase-out of the main driver of dangerous climate change and the cause of hundreds of thousands of premature deaths globally each year, including more than 22,900 in the EU. [1]

Greenpeace, Unfriend Coal and Re:Common have called on the remaining coal insurers around the world to also restrict and exclude coal investments and insurance.

Greenpeace Italy climate campaigner, Luca Iacoboni, noted that this new coal exclusion policy sends an an important signal today that coal is becoming uninsurable and the answer to this is an urgent energy transition to 100% renewable energy. This is not just a matter of securing the survival of our planet, but of the insurance industry as well. Moody’s Investor Service has also warned that climate change has a net negative credit impact on the the re/insurance industry. Re/insurers like AIG, Chubb, Mapfre, Hannover Re-Talanx, Vienna Insurance Group and Uniqa, who are all still actively insuring coal must move away from this dirty fuel or face public scrutiny and economic losses.

Re:Common campaigner, Alessandro Runci, said that while Generali’s new policy is another strong signal to the coal industry, Generali fails to mention when existing coal clients, like those in Central and Eastern Europe, will be dropped. In order to become real climate leaders and to address the air pollution problem exacerbated by their clients, they need to quit coal with no exceptions. That includes no life extension of plants in the form of retrofits beyond 2030 and no to retrofits that would even temporarily increase capacity of existing plants.

Lucie Pinson of the Unfriend Coal campaign observed that Generali’s move shows that coal is increasingly becoming uninsurable. The majority of global insurance companies with the expertise to lead in assessing and underwriting new power plants have now committed to end or limit insurance for new coal projects. Recent climate disasters should remind industry laggards of the urgent need for action.

According to the European Environmental Agency, member countries incurred economic losses caused by weather and climate-related extremes up to approximately 436 billion euro between 2010 and 2016. EU-wide studies in 2016 estimated projected damages to triple by the 2020sAir pollution costs the EU €3.3 billion a year, plus a further €40 to €140 billion in indirect costs.

Coal is the biggest single source of CO2 emissions, driving climate change impacts. The most recent report from UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is loud and clear: to limit the worst climate disasters and irreversible damage, by 2030 coal use needs to drop by two-thirds globally, and completely in Europe.

Notes:

[1] According to studies, coal-fired power plants are estimated to be responsible for the following annual premature deaths: 87,000 in China100,000 in India20,000 in Southeast Asia23,000 in EU

Read more about Unfriend Coal’s campaigns here.