November 9, 2018 / 12:24 PM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 1-Italy's Generali to stop insuring new coal plants

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MILAN, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest insurer Generali said on Friday it would stop offering insurance coverage for new coal mines and plants, marking a step up in the company’s support for green policies.

Generali’s action, which comes ahead of a United Nations climate change conference in Poland in December, is the latest by a big insurance company that targets the coal industry as part of efforts move towards a lower carbon economy.

Europe’s third biggest insurer said in a note on its website it would not provide insurance for coal-related assets of potential new clients and would not be increasing its minimal insurance exposure to coal-related activities.

In late 2017, French insurer AXA said it planned to disinvest further from the coal industry. Others that have taken steps include Scor, Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance.

But many companies - particularly in the United States - have lagged their European rivals.

Earlier this year, Generali pledged to raise its investments in environmentally-friendly projects and eliminate its exposure to the coal sector, a package worth around 2 billion euros.

To do that it said it would sell equity stakes and exit bond investments by bringing them to maturity or even divesting before maturity.

Regarding its existing portfolio of coal-related activities — accounting for just 0.1 percent of non-life premiums — Generali said it was talking with its clients about their transition plans.

“Generali’s move shows coal is increasingly becoming uninsurable,” Lucie Pinson of campaign group Unfriend Coal said.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari and Stephen Jewkes, additional reporting by Simon Jessop. Editing by Jane Merriman

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