Australia’s Suncorp to Stop Insurance for Thermal Coal Power Projects

Australia based insurance giant Suncorp has announced its intention to stop investments and insurance for new thermal coal mines and related power plant facilities. Further, the insurance company also stated that it will not engage with existing thermal coal projects from 2025 onwards.

This development follows a number of similar pledges being made by financial service firms and banks towards ending their support for projects that mine or burn coal for the purposes of electricity production. These pledges are largely in alignment with the objectives of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords.

According to activists, the announcement of Suncorp means that no Australian insurers are left who are willing to support activities related to new thermal coal projects. Currently Suncorp is the owner of brands such as GIO and AAMI. The company’s chief executive, Michael Cameron, had called on the Australian government earlier this year to make it mandatory for the country’s businesses to adopt action plans to prepare for natural disasters arising from climate change.

This concern followed a slump of 45 per cent in the company’s half-yearly profit statement, owing to major extreme weather events in Queensland and Sydney.

Activists Ask Suncorp for Target to Phase out Fossil Fuels

A statement by the $17 billion company said that climate change was a risk in terms of finance and business strategy. However, the change could also be an opportunity, as the firm applies a shadow carbon price, to all investment decisions since 2017, for all operations. This has led to reduction of investments in fossil fuels, particularly thermal coal, by not just Suncorp but also be competitors such as QBE.

Activist group, Market Forces which works in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, set a shareholder resolution pushing Suncorp to set definitive targets to phase out all operations related to fossil fuels including oil, coal, and gas. Campaigner Pablo Brait highlighted the importance of the resolution saying:  “Without action on oil and gas there is a risk that Suncorp ends up trading one massive climate risk for another over time.”