Spotlight on Munich Re after Swiss Re stops reinsuring coal projects
July 2, 2018
The Unfriend Coal Campaign today welcomed Swiss Re’s decision to stop reinsuring businesses with more than 30% exposure to thermal coal and called on Munich Re to follow suit.
Peter Bosshard, coordinator of the Unfriend Coal Campaign, said: “Swiss Re’s announcement sends a strong signal from one of the world’s ultimate managers of risk to governments, investors and financiers that no new coal projects should be developed. It will add to pressure on Munich Re and other insurers to end support for a fuel which is inconsistent with the fight against climate change.”
Katya Nikitenko, Senior Finance Campaigner at Greenpeace, one of the international NGOs supporting the campaign, said: “Greenpeace welcomes coal exclusion policy implementation by Swiss Re. Especially important is the fact that Swiss Re goes beyond exclusions for just plants and mines, and actually deals with company level exclusions.
“This sends a strong message to insurers who are still insuring the coal industry, as well as reinsurers like Munich Re, Hannover Re and Berkshire Hathaway, that coal insurance is going out of fashion, and those who still insure it are behind the curve.”
Lucie Pinson, European coordinator of the Unfriend Coal Campaign, said: “”Swiss Re’s announcement is welcome but it lacks the ambition of Allianz which committed to phase out coal-related business from all its underwriting and investment portfolio by 2040, as will be required to meet the Paris climate target of keeping global warming well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C.
“Big diversified businesses and companies planning new coal plants may not be covered by Swiss Re’s policy because it has only appliedthe 30% exclusion threshold it set for coal divestment and not adopted forward-looking criteria like Allianz AXA and SCOR.”
Swiss Re was the world’s biggest reinsurer in 2016, with 15.7% of all non-life reinsurance premiums, and it is also one of the leading construction, property and casualty reinsurers in the power market. It has already committed to not underwriting Arctic drilling and greenfield tar sands projects and last year divested from companies making more than 30% of revenues from thermal coal.
The move by Swiss Re follows an announcement earlier this year from Allianz, Germany’s dominant primary insurer, that it will no longer provide standalone insurance cover for coal power plants or coal mines.
It will increase pressure on Munich Re, the other giant in the reinsurance industry with 13.5% market share, to stop insuring coal projects. As one of the first insurers to warn about climate risk, Munich Re’s strong involvement in the coal sector is completely inconsistent with its public brand.
Swiss Re joins Allianz, AXA, SCOR and Zurich in ending or limiting cover for coal projects. They are among 17 major insurers which have divested an estimated $23 billion from coal companies, citing concerns about climate change.
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About Unfriend Coal
The Unfriend Coal campaign brings together a global network of NGOs and social movements calling for insurance companies to divest from and cease underwriting coal and support the transition to clean energy. The campaign is supported by 350.org, CIEL (US), ClientEarth (UK), Foundation Development YES – Open-Pit Mines NO (Poland), Friends of the Earth France, Greenpeace Switzerland, Market Forces (Australia), Rainforest Action Network (US), Re:Common (Italy), The Sunrise Project (Australia), Urgewald (Germany) and the Waterkeeper Alliance (US), among others.