Zurich announces ground breaking fossil fuel policy

Zurich Insurance Group has updated its fossil fuel policy that details moves to wind down investments and insurance coverage for coal developers, utilities, mine operators, and companies heavily involved in tar sands and oil shale.

Zurich’s new policy states the insurer will no longer underwrite or invest in companies that generate more than 30 per cent of their revenue from mining thermal coal, or produce more than 20m tonnes of thermal coal per year; generate more than 30 per cent of their electricity from coal; are in the process of developing any new coal mining or coal power infrastructure; generate at least 30 per cent of their revenue directly from the extraction of oil from oil sands; are purpose-built (or “dedicated”) transportation infrastructure operators for oil sands products, including pipelines and railway transportation; or generate more than 30 per cent of their revenue from mining oil shale, or generate more than 30 per cent of their electricity from oil shale.

Commenting on the move Greenpeace campaigner at Greenpeace Switzerland, Asti Roesle, said: “As Zurich moves the mark for climate action, other companies must follow suit or become fossils themselves. First steps taken by fellow insurers Generali and AXA are good but falling short of preventing climate catastrophe associated with a warming beyond 1.5 C - now Zurich has raised the bar and we expect others to follow.”

The new policy also means that Zurich becomes the first major primary insurer to restrict investment in the tar sands and oil shale sectors, although AXA has said it will divest tar sands Zurich’s policy is more restrictive and sets an immediate check on activities.

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