10 major insurers refuse to support Australian ‘carbon bomb’ coal mine

20th December 2018

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Julie Carter

A proposed coal mine that would produce carbon emissions equivalent to what Australia generates over eight years has been declined support from 10 major insurers.

Environmental groups have described the controversial Carmichael coal mine in Australia as “disastrous”, saying it would open up huge reserves in Queensland’s Galilee Basin for exploitation.

All of the country’s major banks have publicly rejected any involvement in the $1.5bn (£1.2bn) project, with the Adani Group last month admitting it would be forced to self-finance the mine.

And now some of the world’s largest insurance companies have ruled out supporting the project, including the first major US insurer to take action on coal – FM Global.

The Unfriend Coal campaign’s European coordinator, Lucie Pinson, said the Carmichael coal mine is a test case that will reveal which insurers are interested in “profiting from the climate chaos”.

“Companies unwilling to rule out insuring this disastrous project are threatening the future of our climate, the unique environment of the Barrier Reef, and the wellbeing of local people,” she added.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes at least 59% of all coal power must be phased out by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C.

It is thought that the Carmichael coal mine would emit 4.6 billion tonnes of CO2 over its approved lifetime, but it cannot be built or operated without insurance coverage.

In response, 73 organisations representing more than 76 million people earlier this month sent an open letter to 30 leading insurers calling on them to rule out support for the project.

While 10 companies have agreed to not insure the mine, 16 others with no policy on coal have yet to respond, including AIG, Berkshire Hathaway, Liberty Mutual and Chubb.

Jason Opeña Disterhoft, climate and energy senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network, said: “Limiting global warming to 1.5˚C is flatly incompatible with expansion of coal via carbon bombs like Adani’s Carmichael mine.

“FM Global not supporting the mine makes it the first US insurer to publicly commit to not insure any coal project – it’s time for AIG, Berkshire Hathaway and their US peers to follow suit.”

Image credit: iStock


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