With AXA, Allianz and Zurich, some of the world’s biggest insurers have stopped or limited insuring coal projects. Smaller players often don’t have the expertise and financial strength to do the due diligence and insure the risks of billion-dollar coal mines and power plants on their own. They need back-up support from reinsurance companies to take the lead on coal projects.
This is where Swiss Re and Munich Re, the two global reinsurance giants, come in. If they don’t reinsure coal projects and companies, new projects can’t be built and existing coal operations will have to be phased out.
In November 2017, Swiss Re publicly committed to limiting its support for coal utilities and mining as part of a broader carbon risk steering mechanism by mid-2018. Campaigners are currently closely watching whether they are about to live up to their promise.
Munich Re on the other hand is still not prepared to kick the coal habit. Munich Re was the first insurance company to warn about climate risks in 1973, and their CEO recently said that “we should be making every effort to reduce CO2 emissions”. Yet an Insure Our Future research briefing found that with 12 contracts since 2013, Munich Re was the biggest insurer of polluting coal mines and power plants in Poland.
When Urgewald asked Munich Re to exit coal at their annual general meeting at the end of April, the reinsurer responded that they were actively supporting renewable energy projects, but would continue to support the coal sector as well. Of course the company knows fully well that more clean energy sources will only help the climate if coal is phased out at the same time.
Now the digital campaign group AVAAZ is lending its voice to the Insure Our Future campaign and targeting Munich Re with a global petition. More than 375,000 people have already called on the company’s CEO “to stop insuring and investing in coal and tar sands”. You can sign the petition here.
AVAAZ has challenged Munich Re to announce their exit from the coal sector by the time of the Global Insurance Forum in Berlin on July 8-11. One of the workshops at the insurance conference is entitled, The Future of Insurance: a Little Less Talk, a Lot More Action. This motto sums up perfectly well what Munich Re needs to do.