Coal under increasing financial pressure: activists
US lags behind on fossil fuels
Published: Dec 02, 2020 07:18 PM
The coal industry is under increasing financial pressure, a coalition of environmental groups said Wednesday, but insurers are not ditching the polluting fuel fast enough to meet climate targets they warned.

Co2 emission in the US Photo: VCG

The fourth annual scorecard by the Insure Our Future campaign found that insurers around the world continue to retreat from coal, which is having a tangible impact on coal mining and power companies.

It cited a broker as saying coal developers are facing rate increases of up to 40 percent in 2020.

"However, this momentum is not keeping up with the escalating climate crisis," they warned in the report.

They cited one calculation that coal emissions need to drop drastically from 2020 if the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C is to be met, but noted that as of July more than 737 gigawatts of new coal power was still in the pipeline or under construction worldwide.

That is not far from the estimated 975 gigawatts the entire EU had in 2015, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The report said major insurance companies in the US, Britain and East Asia are still insuring coal.

"Insurers, as society's risk managers, have a responsibility to actively support the Paris Agreement and global action to avoid climate breakdown," said the report by a group that includes Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network among others.

"They have the power to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy and strong business reasons to do so," they added, pointing to the share prices of fossil fuel companies that are underperforming the market.

Meanwhile, wind and solar power has enjoyed strong growth and now generate electricity more cheaply than coal.

The report found that US insurers lag behind their global peers, with big firms such as AIG, Berkshire Hathaway, and Travelers failing to take any action on fossil fuels at all. 

It also noted that all 10 US insurers in the scorecard continue to support organizations that are lobbying against climate action.

 The scorecard ranks 30 companies in total.