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Axa reins in coal underwriting, launches FastCat

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French insurer Axa has banned its insurance team from offering cover to new coal projects as it launches a parametric assistance product called FastCat and urges that more be done to counter the “climate emergency”.

Axa Climate’s FastCat service, to be available from next month, supports communities and corporations facing natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, cyclones and wildfires.

It provides weather alerts and 24/7 real-time assessment through satellite imagery and drones.

Parametric insurance is growing fast as climate change bites, with global parametric gross written premium estimated to have reached $US5 billion ($7.39 billion), with annual growth of and 6-9%.

Axa’s parametric policies are available in Australia for agribusinesses, and the company is also targeting the energy sector and public programs.

“We have big expectations of parametric, and Australia is top of the list,” Francois Lanavere, Head of Business Development for parametric specialist at Axa Climate, told earlier this month.

At the same time, Axa’s new Climate Strategy says it will ban its insurance arm from business with clients developing new coal projects that exceed 300 megawatts in capacity, aside from employee benefits. It will also further restrict underwriting services with coal-related businesses.

All but five of Australia’s 24 operating coal fired per stations exceed 300 megawatts, according to the Australian Parliament House website. More than half exceed 1000 megawatts.

“The climate emergency requires further efforts,” Axa says. “We are launching a new phase in our climate strategy…by focusing our sustainable finance efforts towards the energy transition of major industries.”

Axa has pledged to “use all its levers as a global investor, insurer and cooperation enabler” and aims to accelerate its contribution to a less carbon-intensive economy by 2050, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

“Axa sets a new ambition towards a zero coal energy world. Axa will therefore reinforce its divestment policy to completely exit the coal industry by 2030 in the OECD and EU countries, then in the rest of the world by 2040,” the insurer says.

In the shorter term, there will be a particularly “stringent” focus on companies developing new coal capacities, Axa says.