Generali to cut coal investments in new climate change strategy

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali has pledged to raise its investments in environmentally-friendly projects and divest from the coal industry as part of a new climate-change strategy.

Europe’s third biggest insurer said it would raise investments in “green” sectors by 3.5 billion euros ($4.3 billion) by 2020, mainly through green bonds and infrastructure.

At the same time, it will divest its current exposure to the coal sector of around 2 billion euros by selling equity stakes and exiting bond investments by bringing them to maturity or even divesting before maturity.

Generali’s move adds to the recent trend of asset managers and wealth funds cutting back on carbon-related investments as policy makers step up efforts to address environmental concerns.

Last December, French insurer AXA quadrupled its green investments and disinvested further from coal.

Europe’s biggest insurer Allianz, which got out of the business of investing in coal in 2015, said last week it was considering whether to stop insuring new coal power plants.

“Protecting the environment and adopting effective actions to tackle climate change are central issues for Assicurazioni Generali,” Generali’s Chief Executive Philippe Donnet said.

Generali said its current exposure to coal-related activities was minimal as a percentage of its total non-life premiums.

“The group will continue its policy of minimal insurance exposure,” it said.

($1 = 0.8116 euros)

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Jane Merriman