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Australian insurer QBE to exit thermal coal over climate change

Mon 1st April, 2019 2:59am
* QBE to stop insuring coal-fired power plants by July 1
    * Insurer will phase out all thermal coal exposure by 2030
    * Met coal, natural gas business will continue

    MELBOURNE, April 1 (Reuters) - Australia's QBE Insurance
Group Ltd  QBE.AX  plans to stop offering new policies for
thermal coal mines and coal-fired power stations to help
encourage a low carbon economy and combat climate change.
    The country's third-largest insurer said it aims to phase
out all direct insurance services for thermal coal customers by
2030, but will still invest in and insure metallurgical coal and
oil and gas companies.
    Fossil fuel divestment has gathered pace over the past few
years as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and universities
have sold oil, gas and coal stocks, especially after the 2015
Paris climate agreement set a goal of phasing out the use of
fossil fuels this century.
    Eleven major re-insurers including Allianz  GAGDFA.UL , AXA
SA  AXAF.PA , Swiss Re  SRENH.S , Munich Re  MUVGR.UL , Zurich
 ZURN.S  have restricted underwriting for coal, according to
Melbourne-based non-government organisation Market Forces.
    "We are acutely aware of the risks and opportunities that
climate change presents for our customers and our business," QBE
said in a weekend statement.
    From July 1, it will no longer offer any new direct
insurance services for construction projects for thermal coal
mines, coal-fired power stations or thermal coal transport
infrastructure, it said.
    QBE will also target zero direct investments from the
thermal coal industry by July 1, while restricting any coal
exposure to half a percent of total funds under management.   
    The insurer has been restructuring its business after 2017's
record annual loss when hurricanes swept the Atlantic and
earthquakes rattled Mexico, selling its Latin American and some
underperforming units.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20J0D7
    Thermal coal is used primarily for heat, while metallurgical
coal is typically used to produce steel.  
    An insurance division of BNP Paribas, France's largest bank,
said last month said it would no longer finance power generation
companies where coal-fired power accounts for more than 30
percent of installed capacity.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2155P8          

 (Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Richard Pullin)
 ((melanie.burton@thomsonreuters.com Twitter: @MelanieMetals;
+613 9286 1421; Reuters Messaging:
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