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Major insurers hold $361m of assets in coal power plant firms

Written by Adam Cadle

Five major European insurers continue to hold at least $361m of assets in companies which are planning to develop 97,000 megawatts of new coal power plants, Unfriend Coal has revealed.

Allianz, Generali, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich also continue to underwrite new coal power plants, the group said, "creating serious risks for the climate as well as for their own financial interests".

In a series of briefing papers, Unfriend Coal said Allianz, Munich Re and Swiss Re, along with at least six other insurers, are in the process of divesting their assets from the coal sector. So far, only AXA has also stopped underwriting coal companies in which it no longer invests. Alone among insurers, AXA is also divesting third party assets which it manages from the coal sector.

"With $241 million in investments in coal companies with 82,600 megawatts in their pipeline, Allianz is by far the most active investor in the expansion of global coal capacity," the group said.

"Allianz has divested its own resources from the coal sector, but not the large amounts of third party assets which it manages through its funds."

Unfriend Coal coalition coordinator Peter Bosshard commented: “The continued support of the insurance industry for coal undermines the goals of the Paris Agreement. Given the pending climate lawsuits, the insurers’ legal cover for the coal industry also creates serious financial risks. Insurers should exit the coal sector out of moral responsibility and self-interest.”

The Unfriend Coal coalition includes groups such as Friends of the Earth France, Greenpeace Switzerland, Re:Common (Italy), Urgewald (Germany) and the Sunrise Project (Australia), among others. The coalition is currently preparing a report ranking leading insurance companies on their climate and coal policies.

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