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Leading European insurers underwrite 30% of U.S. coal: Insure Our Future

28th September 2023 - Author: Kane Wells

According to a new report by Insure Our Future, leading European insurers are underwriting nearly a third of U.S. coal production, despite their net zero commitments.

coal-mineAs per the group’s report, Lloyd’s of London, Zurich, and Swiss Re are among the top ten insurers of the 25 biggest U.S. mines.

Insure Our Future noted that these mines produced more than 60% of the county’s coal in 2022.

“Coal is the largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions, and the U.S. is the fourth largest producer of coal worldwide, mining 595 million short tons in 2022 alone,” Insure Our Future explained.

The group continued, “In response to global pressure and targeted campaigning from Insure Our Future and other networks, 45 major insurers have adopted policies restricting coal underwriting in recent years. However, the report finds that leading insurers are exploiting loopholes or violating their own policies to continue underwriting coal mines.”

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Insure Our Future said that AIG is the biggest underwriter of U.S. coal, insuring seven mines producing 167 million short tons in 2022, 28.1% of national output.

Lloyd’s of London lands in second place, with its insurers reportedly underwriting 10 mines producing 135 million short tons, 22.8% of output.

“As the world’s biggest insurance marketplace, Lloyd’s has committed to leading the market to a net-zero underwriting position, yet it does not mandate or restrict the underwriting policies of its market members,” the group said.

Meanwhile, Insure Our Future’s report highlighted that Zurich insures two mines producing 4.9% of U.S. output and Swiss Re insures one mine producing 3% of output.

Mary Sweeters, Senior Strategist of the Insure Our Future campaign, commented, “This damning report perfectly illustrates the problem: insurers are publicly committing to net zero emissions and restrictive fossil fuel policies, yet behind closed doors they continue to underwrite dirty fossil fuel projects, violating their own policies or exploiting loopholes. They are fuelling the climate crisis and profiting from it, while greenwashing their business with empty promises.”

Lindsay Keenan, European Coordinator of Insure Our Future, said, “Lloyd’s is exposed yet again as a leading insurer of the fossil fuels that are causing the climate crisis. CEO John Neal, who claims Lloyd’s is a sustainability leader, seems motivated only by how much money he and Lloyd’s can make from the climate disasters they help to create.

“He should be ashamed of his hypocrisy. Neal, and those Lloyd’s members involved in insuring fossil fuels with no restrictions or phase out plans, are accomplices in climate crimes.

“Others Lloyd’s members, managers, staff, and investors need to step up, alongside civil society, and help to persuade their peers and John Neal to firmly commit to stop insuring all coal mining in OECD countries by 2030, and to reduce their coverage of coal by 50% by 2025, in-line with the action taken by other leading insurers, as directed by climate science.”

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