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QBE ditches coal business

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QBE has unveiled plans to withdraw from coal-related businesses when the next financial year starts.

The insurer will stop covering construction of new thermal coal mines, coal-fired power stations and coal transport infrastructure from July 1 under an energy policy unveiled on Saturday.

It is also aiming for zero direct investment in the thermal coal industry by July 1.

Additionally, QBE expects to have phased out all underwriting business with thermal coal customers, except for statutory or compulsory insurance, by January 1 2030.

Thermal coal customers, defined by QBE as businesses that derive more than 30% of revenue or power generation from coal, make up less than 0.5% of the group’s premium revenue.

The energy policy builds on the insurer’s previously announced climate change action plan, which commits it to a range of actions over three years to 2020.

“This new energy policy is consistent with that plan… across our operations, and in the decisions we make about where to invest or which risks we choose to underwrite, we have developed a detailed approach for how we manage climate-related risks,” CEO Pat Regan said.

Environmental activist group Market Forces, which has targeted QBE in its anti-coal campaign, has welcomed the announcement.

“QBE’s decision to withdraw insurance from the coal industry is business and environmental good sense,” Market Forces Campaigner Pablo Brait said.

“While this is an important decision by QBE, we will continue to press the company to implement broader policies covering all fossil fuels, to achieve alignment with the Paris Agreement.”