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First non-European insurer restricts coal insurance

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World Coal,

The announcement on 30 March by Australia’s largest insurer, QBE, to end its support for the coal industry has been welcomed by environmental finance group Market Forces.

“QBE's decision to withdraw insurance from the coal industry is business and environmental good sense,” said Market Forces Campaigner Pablo Brait.

According to reports, insurance giant QBE will stop insuring new thermal coal mines, power plants and transport networks from 1 July this year, and will shut down its thermal coal underwriting business by 2030.

It will also withdraw all direct investment in companies that generate more than 30% of their revenue from thermal coal from 1 July, and introduce a 0.5% limit on indirect investments through managed funds.

As part of a long-running campaign, earlier this month Market Forces and publicly listed wealth manager Australian Ethical lodged a shareholder resolution calling on QBE to set targets for reducing its investment and underwriting exposure to fossil fuels in line with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“Whilst this is an important decision by QBE, we will continue to press the company to implement broader policies covering all fossil fuels in order to achieve alignment with the Paris Agreement,” said Brait.

To date, 20 globally significant insurers with more than US$6 trillion in assets and representing 20% of global insurance assets have adopted coal divestment policies, including the four largest European insurers. When smaller insurers and partial divestments are included, the total is 25 insurance companies worldwide. Eleven major re-insurers (including Allianz, AXA, Swiss Re, Munich Re, Zurich and now QBE) have restricted underwriting for coal.

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