Paris asks insurers to ditch coal

Paris City Council passed a motion last night where its members ask the CEOs of the world’s largest insurance and reinsurance companies to stop insuring coal projects.

The call comes just a few weeks before an annual meeting to be held in the City of Light from May 30 to June 2, 2018, and which is expected to be attended by representatives of the most important insurance companies on the planet.

Information received and distributed by ecologist groups such as Unfriend Coal and Friends of the Earth, states that the motion appealed specifically to insurance companies with which the city has contracts to switch investment to renewables. It also asks them to fight against air pollution by removing their support for projects and companies in the coal sector, particularly in the European Union with a special emphasis in Poland.

Tabled by five green councillors, the motion also notes that the Polish coal industry is responsible for 6,000 deaths of the 23,000 attributed to it throughout Europe.

The document sounds alarm bells over the fact that even though OECD countries are supposed to phase out coal by 2030 in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, the coal industry plans to open new mines and to build 15GW of new coal power in Europe, including 9GW in Poland.

Unfriend Coal supports the notion that some of those projects are likely to be insured by companies such as Allianz, SCOR and Generali.

“The role of insurers is still underestimated despite it being decisive in preventing the risks of tomorrow. It is contradictory to warn about the cost of climate change on one side and the other to finance the acceleration. Without their investments and insurance, no fossil project could emerge,” Green Party councillor Jerome Gleizes told financial news site Novethic.

This is not the first time that the French capital targets coal. Only three months ago, Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced her office was considering to sue fossil fuel companies for climate change damages. Back in 2015, the City decided to divest from fossil fuels and other high carbon industries.