Generali is supporting Polish coal plants which are estimated to cause thousands of premature deaths a year and undermine international efforts to combat climate change, NGOs supporting the Insure Our Future campaign will warn at its AGM today.
102,422 people have called on Europe’s third largest insurer to end support for coal, in petitions organised by WeMove.EU, Greenpeace Italy and Polish NGO Akcja Demokracja.
Campaigners will attend the AGM today to warn that Generali’s support for coal puts at risk its own customers and demand that it takes action to protect their health and climate.
"Coal-fired power plants in Poland cause dangerous air pollution that leads to an estimated 5,800 premature deaths in Europe every year, including over 1,100 in Poland and 400 in Italy. The Turów open pit mine, insured by Generali, fuels this public health crisis by providing lignite (the dirtiest type of coal) to one of the most polluting power plants in Europe and coal-burning household stoves in the region."
"Generali is financing the destruction of human lives and the natural environment in Central Europe. Coal companies and utilities in the Czech Republic and Poland like PGE and ČEZ are responsible for horrible things. Approximately two thousand people die prematurely each year because of air pollution caused by Czech lignite power plants alone. Thousands of local people risk losing their water supply as a result of expansion plans for Turow mine and thousands more suffer the impacts of particulate and noise pollution from mining all over the region. What is more, these coal companies produce tens of million tons of greenhouse gases emissions. Nothing of this could happen if Generali and other insurers didn’t support the dirty coal business."
"Each time Generali insures a coal plant or mine, it is supporting those who are burning our chances to avoid catastrophic climate change. It is time for the Lion of Trieste to take a stand and decide what is more important: short-term profits or the future of our planet.”
"Generali should divest completely from coal today and should stop offering insurance coverage to coal power plants and mines. This could be Generali's first step in fully divesting from all fossil fuels and showing that they are part of the solutions for climate change, not part of the problem."
"More than 100,000 people across Europe have demanded that Generali stops investing in coal and insuring coal projects. Many are Generali's own customers who are very concerned about the quality of the air our children breathe and the future of our climate. We hope their voices will push the company to take action to protect Europe's climate and health.”
Poland’s coal industry is the most polluting in Europe, causing an estimated 5,830 premature deaths every year including 430 in Italy. Generali provides insurance for:
- The biggest coal power plant under construction in Europe, a 1800MW expansion at Opole, Poland, due to start operating in 2019.
- Turow open-pit mine, which supplies 7 million tonnes of lignite a year, the dirtiest form of coal. The mine lowers groundwater levels significantly, affecting drinking water for 30,000 people.
- The 1075MW expansion of Europe’s second largest coal plant – 4,016MW – at Kozienice, Poland. Even before this recent expansion it was estimated to cause 650 premature deaths each year, 14,140 asthma attacks in children and emit more than 11 million tonnes of CO2.
In February, Generali announced plans to divest €2 billion from coal and make no new investments in businesses associated with the coal sector. However, it confirmed that it would continue to insure coal projects.
Coal is the biggest single source of carbon emissions. Last year the UN called for no new coal-fired power stations worldwide and an accelerated phase-out of existing plants as key steps to achieving international climate goals.
Insurers are uniquely placed to support the transition away from coal. By ceasing to underwrite and invest in coal projects, they can improve public health, increase life expectancy for thousands of people, and support international climate targets and the fight against dangerous global warming.
AXA announced the industry’s most progressive policies on climate change in December 2017, pledging to stop insuring any new coal, tar sands and associated pipeline projects and to divest another €2.4 billion from coal and €700 million from oil sands and producers and associated pipelines.