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Zurich ends coal investments as insurers pull $20bn from sector

Zurich has becomethe latest insurance giantto cut ties with coal-intensive businesses, bringingthe amount insurers have pulled fromthese companiesto around$20bn (?15.2bn) in just two years.
A growing number of insurers are trying todistance themselves from fossil fuelsamidclimate change concerns, with coal mining thebiggest single source of carbon dioxide emissionsfrom human activity.
Zurich has decided topull money and stop offering insuranceto companies that depend on coal for more than half of their turnover, announcing a change toits policies months after Greenpeacewrote to the world'slargestinsurers urgingthem to take action.
French insurance giant Axa was the world's firstfinancial institution to divest from coal, removing hundreds of millions worth of coal investmentsin 2015, with Allianz following suit some months later. Swiss Re and Lloyds are set to unveil new policies in the coming months.
Fifteen insurers with over $4 trillion in assets covered by coal divestment decisions have now changed or are planning to change their policies around coal, with $20bn worth of investments so far pulled, according to a report published today bythe Unfriend Coal campaign.
Zurich ends coal investments as insurers pull $20bn from sector

Fifteen insurers with over $4 trillion in assets have now taken or are planning action on coal with $20bn already pulled out of investments
"Coal needs to become uninsurable," saidUnfriend Coal coordinator Peter Bosshard. "If insurers cease to cover the numerous natural, technical, commercial and political risks of coal projects, new coal mines and power plants cannot be built and existing operations will have to shut down."
He added thatbecause insurers manage around $31 trillion of assets they havethe power toshiftmoney away from coal and towardsclean energy, acceleratingthe change towardsa low-carbon economy by blocking the funding for new coal mines.
Backed by a number of organisations including Greenpeace, Rainforest Action and ClientEarth, the report also ranked the world's biggest insurers by their climate change policies an issue that has come to the fore this year following a series of catastrophic climate disasters which has cost the sector millions.
"So far, no American insurer has taken meaningful action on coal and climate change, and even industry giants such as Berkshire Hathaway, AIG and Liberty Mutual have remained completely silent about the catastrophic climate risks affecting their clients," the reportsaid.
Coal as an energy source is not only in decline in developed countries theInternational Energy Agency (IEA)saidon Tuesday that major energy demand centres, such as China and India, are alsoreducing their reliance on coal-fired power in favour of renewable energy.
Coal use may have peaked in China four years ago and could decline15pc by 2040, the IEA said in its annual world energy outlook, whilein India theshare of coal in the electricity mix is likely to drop from three-quarters last year to less than half in 2040.
Additional reporting by Jillian Ambrose
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