PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - France's AXA AXAF.PA said it was strengthening its climate strategy by committing to exit coal more quickly across a greater number of countries, as policymakers seek a faster transition to a low-carbon economy.
AXA said that as an investor it would exit completely from the coal industry across countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union by 2030, and the rest of the world by 2040.
Financial institutions and industrial companies are under increased pressure from investors to show concrete steps in supporting the implementation of the United Nations-backed 2015 Paris Agreement to avert catastrophic global warming.
Negotiators from almost 200 countries are set to meet in Madrid from Dec. 2-13 to thrash out details on how to implement the landmark Paris climate agreement and ramp up cuts of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
A United Nations report this week said greenhouse gas emissions hit a record in 2018, and warned emission reductions will need to be significantly increased between 2020 and 2030 to meet the Paris goal.
In other steps announced on Wednesday, the French insurer said it will put 12 billion euros (£10 billion) in “green investments” between 2020-2023.
AXA added that as an insurer, it would restrict coal undewriting policy and stop selling insurance contracts, apart from employee benefits offers, to clients developing new coal projects that exceed 300 MW in capacity.
It will also launch in December a new tool dubbed “FastCat” that will be sold as part of insurance contracts worldwide and will offer weather alerting and real-time assessment for clients facing dangers of natural disasters such as flood, earthquake, cyclones and wildfire.
The moves by AXA drew praise from some environmental groups.
“AXA is leading the way by driving its portfolio of coal down to zero by 2030,” said Regine Richter, Energy Campaigner at Germany-based campaign group Urgewald.
On Tuesday, Italian bank UniCredit CRDI.MI pledged to halt all lending for thermal coal projects by 2023.
Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva in Paris and Simon Jessop in London; Additional reporting by Susanna Twidale in London
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