Coal activists stage insurance protest Monaco-style

Campaign group targets reinsurers gathered at industry event

Coal activists stage insurance protest Monaco-style


By Terry Gangcuangco

Major reinsurers are currently gathered in Monte Carlo for the annual Rendez-Vous de Septembre – and environmental activists, who aren’t slowing down in the fight against insuring coal, took the opportunity to get their message across, Monaco-style.

Matching the grandness of the industry conference, campaigners used a sailing boat and a massive banner to tell reinsurers to “Unfriend Coal.” The protest took place during the event’s Cocktail Officiel held at the Fairmont Monte-Carlo, with photographer Marion Esnault snapping the above image from a vantage point close to the cocktail party venue.

Meanwhile also coinciding with the week-long gathering was the release of Unfriend Coal’s report Reinsuring Climate Chaos, which examined the coal policies of the firms controlling nearly half of the global reinsurance market. According to the campaign group, the response from reinsurers as far as climate change efforts are concerned has been much weaker compared to actions by direct insurers.

Unfriend Coal, which cited policy loopholes, believes reinsurers are “uniquely placed” to drive the transition from coal to clean energy.

“Coal companies need insurance coverage to operate their coal mines or build new power plants,” read the briefing seen by Insurance Business. “But because the risks associated with the coal sector are many, varied, and important, with the sums insured for a single project reaching billions of dollars, insurers tend to cede a part of the risks to a reinsurer.

“Moreover, with a growing number of major insurers pulling out of the coal sector, smaller insurers might have to cede a bigger share of the risks to reinsurers, increasing the role of these very last managers of risks. But reinsurers can decide to stop underwriting and investing in the coal sector.”

The report said it would only need the withdrawal of the biggest among the reinsurers who are active in the coal market – which aren’t many – to challenge the sector’s expansion and hasten its phase-out.

“Reinsurers have warned about the risks of runaway climate change for decades,” commented Lucie Pinson, Unfriend Coal’s European coordinator and author of the briefing. “It is unconscionable that, at a time when they could help push destructive coal plants over the edge and develop innovative insurance solutions for the low-carbon economy, these companies continue to prop up climate-destroying fossil fuel projects.”

Meanwhile Regine Richter, a campaigner with Unfriend Coal partner Urgewald, said global reinsurers need to close loopholes and stop catering to the coal sector ahead of the COP24 conference happening in Poland later this year.


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