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Insurance companies are divesting from fossil fuels

written by Sara Giordano

Leading insurance companies pull $20bn of investment from coal: according to the recently published report by Unfriend Coal (report here), a growing number of insurance companies refuse to underwrite coal companies and 15 leading insurance companies have already pulled $20 billion out of investments in coal. Insurance company Zurich has recently made a new commitment (press release, 13 Nov) to stop providing underwriting services “for new thermal coal mines or for potential new clients that derive more than half their revenue from mining thermal coal, and also for utility companies that generate more than half of their energy from coal”. On the investment side, Zurich will divest from “equity holdings in companies that derive more than half of their revenues from mining thermal coal, or utility companies that generate more than half of their energy from coal”.

In Australia, the largest private health insurer Medibank – with more than 3.7 million private health insurance customers - announced (The Guardian, 13 Nov) that it will reduce exposure to fossil-fuel investments because of the effects of climate change on human health. “In line with our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our customers, Medibank has begun a "process to reduce our exposure to carbon intensive assets”, said Chairman Elizabeth Alexander at the firm’s annual general meeting. “While Medibank does not directly invest in fossil fuels, we do have a small exposure to high carbon investments mainly through index-based equity investments”, she added.

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