PRI probes Liberty Mutual over alleged backing of Brisbane coal project

PRI probes Liberty Mutual over alleged backing of Brisbane coal project | Insurance Business

PRI probes Liberty Mutual over alleged backing of Brisbane coal project

The UN Principles of Responsible Investment (UNPRI) is investigating and reviewing the membership status of Liberty Mutual after receiving a complaint that it is backing an Australian coal project.

Paul Stephenson, a member of action group Save the Dawson, said the group filed a formal complaint urging UNPRI’s board to engage with Liberty Mutual to withdraw an application to develop the Baralaba South coal mine, 500 kilometres northwest of Brisbane in Queensland, before the end of the month.

According to Reuters, the Baralaba South coal mine is expected to produce five million tonnes per year of a type of coal that is mostly used in steel-making but can also be used for power.

Liberty Mutual formally signed up to UNPRI principles last December. However, UNPRI chief executive Fiona Reynolds warned that the organisation might ban the insurer if found guilty during the review.

“That (community group) complaint will now be actioned and will go through our internal process,” Reynolds said, as reported by Reuters. “Ultimately, a complaint goes to the PRI board and can result in a signatory being delisted.”

Liberty Mutual has received flak from community groups, Aboriginal traditional owners, and farmers opposed to the mine’s development due to climate change and pollution of local waterways leading to the Great Barrier Reef.

In January, a spokesman for Liberty Mutual told local media that the insurer recognised climate change risks and was taking action to reduce carbon emissions for the project that would provide hundreds of jobs in a rural area.