Swiss Re to phase out reinsuring coal by 2040

FILE PHOTO: Reinsurer Swiss Re's headquarters are seen on the banks of Lake Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Swiss Re said on Tuesday it would completely phase out reinsuring the thermal coal industry by 2040, a move praised by climate activists.

The announcement comes as insurers face climate-related losses and get to grips with climate risk in their portfolios.

As an interim step, Swiss Re said it would phase out coal exposure by 2030 for those countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The measure will affect various business lines, including property, casualty and marine cargo.

The activist network Insure Our Future said the initiative “marks a breakthrough in the reinsurance industry” and called on competitors to follow suit.

Regine Richter, a campaigner with Urgewald, said she welcomed the move because it closes “the big loophole in coal policies of reinsurers”.

The announcement “sends a clear signal to the market that the air is getting thinner and thinner for coal”, Richter said.

Reporting by Tom Sims and Simon Jessop, editing by Ed Osmond