Major U.S. insurance company cuts all ties to the coal industry as a result of climate change

U.S. insurance giant Chubb said Tuesday that they will cease all investments in the coal industry and also stop selling policies that help construct coal plants. It will also stop underwriting companies that generate more than 30 percent of their revenue from coal mining or electricity produced coal.

The Guardian reports:

“Chubb will become the first US insurer to turn its back on the global coal industry by beginning to phase out its coal investments and insurance policies within the next three years.

“It will also stop investing in these companies because of their contribution to the global climate crisis.

Chubb said its existing investments and insurance policies with coal-powered companies and miners would be phased out by 2022.”

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company and the market leader when it comes to insuring the U.S. power sector. It has annual revenues of $19.4 billion.

Evan Greenberg, the chairman and chief executive of Chubb, explained his company’s decision to divest itself of investments in the coal sector by noting:

“Chubb recognizes the reality of climate change and the substantial impact of human activity on our planet. Making the transition to a low-carbon economy involves planning and action by policymakers, investors, businesses and citizens alike.  The policy we are implementing today reflects Chubb’s commitment to do our part as a steward of the Earth.”

Environmental groups praised the move, with Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network, remarking:

“With this policy, Chubb has become the first major U.S. insurance company to acknowledge the key role the insurance industry has to play in stopping the climate crisis. New coal projects cannot be built without insurance, and Chubb just dealt a blow to the dozens of companies that are still betting on the expansion of coal globally. We are encouraged to see Chubb taking real action to address climate change and insure a healthier future.”

Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, echoed Allen, adding:

Chubb’s announcement is a clear sign that coal is becoming uninsurable worldwide. 15 European and Australian insurance companies already restrict insurance to the coal industry. With the U.S. industry joining this global trend, governments and power utilities should see that the industry is moving beyond coal.”

But despite the good news from Chubb, the Trump administration remains firmly behind coal mining and energy production from coal-fired power plants. President Donald Trump ran on a platform of encouraging more coal mining in the United States, but since taking office coal consumption in the U.S. has continued to decrease, according to Forbes:

“Even with the rollback in regulations by Trump’s EPA the past two years, the U.S. Energy Information Agency projects that U.S. coal consumption will decline 4% this year to 691 million short tons. This will be down 44% since coal’s peak usage in 2007, and the lowest amount since 1979 when Jimmy Carter was President, the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident occurred and ESPN was launched.”

Coal is dirty, dangerous to mine, and fading as a viable energy source in the industrialized world. It’s also a threat to the environment when mined and when burned. The coal industry’s days may be numbered. For the sake of the planet, we can certainly hope so.

 

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Andrew Bradford
 

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