Insurance and Climate Change column

Allianz Expanding Climate Strategy, Doesn’t Want to Insure Coal Operations

By | May 10, 2018

The Allianz Group “is significantly expanding its climate strategy.”

The German insurance giant recently announced a commitment to support the change to a low-carbon economy over the coming decades, and is setting for itself long-term climate goals that are linked to the 2-degree Celsius target outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Allianz plans to have phased out both its proprietary investments in coal-based business and its insurance coverage of such risks by 2040.

The company will also reduce its carbon footprint of its business operations over the next 20 years with steps including purchasing a higher proportion of its electricity in the form of renewable energies in electricity.

“Climate change generates enormous economic and social risks. It is already harming millions of people today,” Oliver Bäte, CEO of Allianz SE, said in a statement. “As a leading insurer and investor, we want to promote the transition to a climate-friendly economy.”

Companies that do not succeed in adjusting their greenhouse gas emissions to the 2-degree target over the coming decades will be gradually removed from Allianz portfolio, the company said.

Allianz is planning to no longer provide insurance to single coal-fired power plants or coal mines, while companies that generate electricity from multiple sources, such as coal, other fossil fuels or renewable energies, will continue to be insured, and individually reviewed on the basis of defined criteria.

Allianz’s stated goal is to completely phase out coal risks in the insurance business by 2040.

Most opponents of coal and fossil fuel usage were high on the move.

Heffa Schuecking, executive director of the German environment and human rights organization Urgewald, stated: “The coal industry is the number one driver of climate change, and building new coal plants is incompatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement. We welcome Allianz’s move as an important step towards making the coal industry uninsurable and uninvestable.”

Other activists called on the industry to do more.

“The insurance industry is uniquely placed to support the transition away from coal, and four global insurers have now decided to shift away from coal,” said Peter Bosshard, coordinator of the international Unfriend Coal campaign. “We call on Munich Re, Generali, AIG and other climate laggards in the industry to also stop insuring and investing in coal projects.”

Allianz’ objection to fossil fuels isn’t alone. in the insurance world. French insurer Axa took a stance on investing in coal several years ago, announcing it would sell its holdings in companies that get the majority of their business from coal.

Pittsburgh Landslides and Climate Change

Climate change could mean more landslides in Pittsburgh’s future.

That’s according to an article from NPR in Pennsylvania. The station’s report follows numerous slides and flooding in the area after an extremely wet February.

Landslides have always been an issue for the city because of its steep hills, clay soil and narrow valleys.

However, these slides typically usually occur in late spring and early summer, while winter is typically Pittsburgh’s driest period, the NPR article states.

This year has been Pittsburgh’s wettest start to the year on record, with February producing exceptional rain and higher than average higher temperatures, and temperatures in western Pennsylvania are roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer compared with a century ago.

“Climate change models show that not only is it getting warmer, but weather patterns are becoming more extreme,” the article states. “That means wet places are getting wetter and dry places drier. More water evaporates in warmer temperatures, and warmer air can in turn hold more water creating the potential for heavier storms.”

It’s EarthTime

If you look closely, EarthTime is more than just a cool animation.

A new tool recently released for free public use pieces together and animates high-definition satellite imagery using an array of data layers to show the patterns behind some major social and political trends of the past two decades – and beyond.

Type in a search, for example, for Long Beach, Calif., and you’ll be taken through an animation from 1984 to 2016. In a dense city, most of the changes visible are to the few large development swaths, as well as the massive port complex. Intriguing, but not so dramatic.

The search of Seattle, Wash., which saw a boom from the 1980s on, shows changes far more pronounced. Type in sprawling “Houston, Texas,” for a real dramatic visual of development.

Users can choose topics from a data library, which include a “climate” that shows forecasted future sea level rise. Search Miami, Florida, and a sea of black emerges through 4 degrees Celsius of global warming. New York becomes a string of islands. Other topics include urbanization, water, forest loss and trade.

EarthTime is backed the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab, which explores socially meaningful innovation and deployment of robotic technologies. CREATE Lab’s stated vision is to promote data literacy, inspire dialogue and democratize access to data for everyone.

“By showing the results of our past decisions with visual evidence through time, we create the scaffolding that supports positive future decision-making,” the EarthTime website explains. “We can empower our decision makers in public and private spheres to make more informed, forward-facing choices.”

The data comes from sources around the world, and partners include NASA, the U.S. Census, the United Nations and university research programs at Oxford, Harvard, University of Maryland.

King County

A county in Washington recently became the latest entity to sue the oil industry for the costs of adapting to climate change.

King County filed suit against Exxon, British Petroleum, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips seeking to help pay for the “hundreds of millions of dollars” to adapt to changing conditions created by climate change.

According to the lawsuit, the companies knowingly sold a product with the potential for massive consequences.

The county’s official website states: “Climate change is one of the paramount challenges of our generation; in King County, we are no longer predicting the impacts of climate change – we are experiencing them.”

The site outline’s the county’s strategic plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change. King County is committed to reducing GHG emissions by 25 percent by 2020, 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, the site states.

“We must hold these companies accountable as we marshal our resources to protect and preserve what makes this region great,” Dow Constantine, King County executive, said in a statement.

The oil companies this week asked a judge to throw out a smilar lawsuit by New York City.

Coal is under fire from numerous entities, including California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who earlier this week announced he had conducted a climate-related financial risk stress test and analysis of insurance companies’ investments in fossil-fuels.

Past columns:

Topics USA New York Energy Oil Gas Climate Change Allianz

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Latest Comments

  • May 30, 2018 at 10:43 am
    M Morrissey says:
    Cowardly? Perhaps they realize that as coal becomes less profitable each year, losing market to renewables, coal companies will increasingly take risks to make money. Who want... read more
  • May 11, 2018 at 3:52 pm
    Craig Cornell says:
    Love the time frame: "by 2040". Hilarious. Not only will all the current Allianz executives no longer work at the company - and so will not be around to implement their planet... read more
  • May 11, 2018 at 3:13 pm
    Agent says:
    Hmm, wonder if they will write Coal Operations in Germany, Poland or any other European countries?

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