Allianz cuts back on coal insurance after environmentalist criticism

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s Allianz will immediately stop insuring single coal-fired power plants and coal mines, the company said on Friday, following criticism from environmental groups.

FILE PHOTO: Oliver Baete, Chief Executive Officer of Europe's biggest insurer Allianz SE, arrives for the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Munich, Germany May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

But Allianz said it would continue to insure companies generating power through multiple sources, including coal and other fossil fuels. It wants to phase out any coal insurance by 2040, it said.

Environmentalists said the measures were a step in the right direction but one group, Unfriend Coal, said the deadline of 2040 was too distant.

European insurance companies have been under pressure from climate campaigners to phase out investments in and the insuring of the coal industry.

Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali in February pledged to cut coal investments in a new climate change strategy.

“As a leading insurer and investor, we want to promote the transition to a climate-friendly economy,” Allianz Chief Executive Oliver Baete said in a statement.

In February, an environmental campaign group published a report that highlighted Allianz’s leadership of a consortium underwriting a large coal-fired power plant under construction in Poland.

Allianz responded it had put together a working group on the topic. Friday’s announcement is the product of its findings.

Campaigners said Friday’s announcement was an overdue but effective step for climate protection in the insurance business.

“Allianz sends a strong signal that companies planning new coal-fired power plants are no longer eligible for investment, ” Regine Richter, energy and finance campaigner at Urgewald said.

Allianz stopped investing in coal in 2015.

Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; editing by David Evans