Monday was the deadline for the insurance contract tender involving a new 660MW coal power plant in the Czech Republic, and supporters of the Unfriend Coal campaign have written to the chief executives of 17 insurers in an “appeal not to underwrite.”
Signed by campaigners from Foundation ‘DY-OPMN’, Greenpeace Switzerland, The Sunrise Project, Friends of the Earth France, Urgewald, and Re:Common, the letter was addressed to the CEOs of AIG, AXIS Capital, Chubb, Generali, Hannover Re, Liberty Mutual, Lloyd’s, Mapfre, Munich Re, QBE, SCOR, Sompo, Tokio Marine, Vienna Insurance Group, W.R. Berkley, XL Catlin, and Zurich.
The appeal centres on energy group CEZ’s Ledvice III NZ’s new lignite-fired power unit, which will be fuelled by lignite produced from the Bílina open-pit mines. According to the letter seen by Insurance Business, CEZ produces 21 million tons of coal annually and owns 6,462MW of coal-fired power capacity.
CEZ is the state-owned main power utility of the Czech Republic, which is said to be active in the coal sectors not only in its home country but also in Poland and Bulgaria. The letter stressed that insurance support for its latest project would reward the coal expansion strategy of a major European coal utility.
The appeal added that CEZ’s plans to further expand coal capacity and to burn coal for another four decades are “completely at odds” with the climate targets agreed upon under the Paris Agreement.
“Our carbon budget does not allow us to build any new coal power infrastructure, and any new coal plant is inconsistent with the global target of limiting global warming to well below 2°C,” the NGOs stated in the letter. “Moreover, according to the research institute Climate Analytics, existing coal plants need to be totally phased out by 2030 in OECD countries, including in the European Union.”
The groups said they “will closely monitor and expose to the public any insurers which decide to underwrite the Ledvice III project.”
They wrote: “Four of the world’s biggest insurers – Allianz, AXA, SCOR, and Zurich – have limited or ceased their underwriting of coal projects, and Swiss Re has just announced a policy on this issue as well. We call on you to follow these companies’ lead and commit to not underwrite the new Ledvice unit and to cease underwriting coal projects and companies which are unlikely to transition rapidly enough to a 100% renewables-based energy system.
“We hope to see your institution announcing an end to underwriting coal in the near future…”