World’s largest insurance firms continue to prop up Polish coal industry

Major European insurance firms continue to undermine international efforts to combat climate change by underwriting new coal plants in Poland, supporting an industry linked to 10,520 premature deaths every year.

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A new report published today by the Unfriend Coal campaign reveals that insurers have invested €1.3bn (£1.15bn) in Polish coal companies since 2013, and signed at least 21 contracts underwriting new coal projects.

Without insurance cover, these plants could not be built and would have to be shut down, including an 1800MW project due to start operation in Poland next year – the largest plant currently under construction in Europe.

“Insurers backing Polish coal are putting themselves on the wrong side of the fight against dangerous climate change, and risking their shareholders’ money,” report author, Lucie Pinson, said.

“There can be no excuse supporting new coal mines and power plants, and insurers should withdraw cover and investment from existing projects as soon as possible.”

Research by NGOs supporting the Unfriend Coal campaign shows that the biggest underwriter of Polish coal is Munich Re’s Ergo Hestia, which has insured 12 projects over the last five years.

Allianz is the next biggest, underwriting nine projects, followed by Generali, Talanx’s subsidiary Tuir Warta and PZU, which have insured eight, seven and six respectively.

This comes after the European Commission yesterday approved the Polish capacity mechanism that will allow the country to continue subsidising coal-fired power plants for decades to come.

Economic think tank WiseEuropa said the decision will cost the country’s citizens €6bn over the next ten years, with the Climate Action Network (CAN) saying it contradicts the commission’s own target to phase out coal by 2030.

“It is a huge sell-out to the Polish coal industry at the expense of Polish taxpayers and the climate,” CAN Europe coal policy coordinator, Joanna Flisowska, said.

“It is vitally important that the EU corrects this mistake and ensures that the biggest polluters are precluded from receiving public money in the ongoing negotiations of the Clean Energy Package.

“The only silver lining is that the Commission has recognized that the scheme can only be applied temporarily and will have to be adjusted in light of the outcomes of these negotiations.”

 

Image credit: iStock

 

 

Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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