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ClientEarth Communications

8th February 2018

Rule of law
Climate finance
Fossil fuels

Insurers may face legal questions if they keep propping up coal

Responding to research released today showing European insurers are a primary funder of Poland’s coal industry, ClientEarth senior lawyer Alice Garton said: “Investing in coal shows a real lack of judgment. Governments are striving to keep global temperatures down, while these companies are fuelling the fire.

"Continuing to invest in coal is at odds with insurers’ claims that they are actively engaging with companies to reduce their reliance on coal. With Lloyd's of London and other major industry players beginning to recognise that continued coal investment makes no financial sense, it is worrying to see that some insurers still have their minds firmly focused on the short term.

“The argument for underwriting coal is on ever shakier ground. Can insurers really claim that these projects are sustainable with global commitments under the Paris Agreement casting that into serious doubt?

“Insurers propping up the coal industry need to seriously reassess. They may find themselves facing legal questions from investors if they fail to move on.”

Poland has 10GW of coal in the pipeline - roughly the equivalent of 10 large plants - as well as open-pit mines expected to yield over 3 billion tonnes of lignite, the most polluting form of coal.

The EU Commission yesterday approved billions in subsidies to Poland's energy sector, much of which will go to coal projects. Recent research by Carbon Tracker predicts 97% of coal power plants in Europe will be running at a loss by 2030.