US insurers ‘betraying public’ with continued coal investment

None of the nation’s nine leading insurers assessed in a new report have taken significant action

US insurers are betraying their customers and the public by failing to step away from coal investments.

That’s the verdict from campaign group Unfriend Coal, which says none of the nine leading US insurers assessed in the group’s latest scoreboard have taken significant action and claims companies such as AIG, Chubb, Liberty Mutual and Berkshire Hathaway are continuing to underwrite and invest in the industry.

This contrasts with Europe, where the majority of major insurers have made bold steps to phase out the polluting power source – out of 10 large companies assessed on underwriting, only three have not ended or limited insurance for coal projects, while among the 12 major companies assessed on investment, all but three have divested.

Three of Japan’s largest life insurance companies, Nippon, Dai-ichi and Meiji Life, have announced they will no longer fund new coal projects.

Globally, at least 19 major insurers with more than $6 trillion (£4.7tn) in assets, a fifth of the industry’s global assets, have divested from coal, up from $4 trillion (£3.1tn) and 13% a year ago.

The report suggests Generali, Lloyd’s, Hannover Re, AG2R La Mondiale and Groupama have announced new divestment policies this year while AXA, Allianz and Munich Re strengthened their strategies.

On the scorecard, which ranks 24 of the world’s biggest insurers on their action on coal and climate change, Swiss Re ranks highest for the most comprehensive policies on both coal insurance and divestment, having withdrawn funding from companies relying on coal for more than 30% of their mining income or power generation and no longer offering them insurance cover.

Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace US, said: “US insurers are betraying their shareholders, their customers and the wider public by continuing to support fossil fuels.

“They should follow the lead of their European peers who realise that coal is a bad investment, causes thousands of premature deaths each year and must be phased out rapidly to avoid dangerous climate change.”

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