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Increasing Number of Big Insurers Turning Backs on Coal

Utilities are now struggling to find insurance to build new coal power outside of China, according to a report published by the Insure Our Future campaign and Korean NGO Solutions for Our Climate. For example, Korea’s national power utility KEPCO signed contracts with 19 insurers in 2018 to underwrite the construction of the 1.3 gigawatt (GW) Nghi Son 2 plant in Vietnam for US$7.2 billion. Four years later, 72% of the insurance capacity that underwrote the project has been withdrawn from the market. Since the Insure Our Future campaign launched in 2017, 39 insurers have ended or limited their cover for new coal projects. However, a number of international insurers, including Hannover Re, SCOR, QBE and Helvetia, continue to underwrite existing coal plants for companies that have not committed to phasing out coal in line with climate targets. As a result, utilities are turning to “smaller, inexperienced companies to secure cover for coal power plants”, the report warned. Peter Bosshard, Global Coordinator of the Insure Our Future Campaign and report author, said: “Major international insurers have withdrawn from coal projects and been replaced by a haphazard coalition of the willing, consisting of a few global climate laggards, small speciality insurers and assorted companies from the Global South. Our report exposes Starr, Liberty Mutual, Berkshire Hathaway, Allied World and Lloyd’s of London as the coal industry’s last lifeline.” The report has called for insurers to immediately stop insuring new coal plants, mines and associated infrastructure, and to stop insuring the operations of coal companies that have yet to adopt phase-out plans that align with a credible 1.5°C pathway by the end of this year.  

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