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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Global financial sector pulls funding for coal projects once two weeks

Insurers, banks and other financial institutions across the world have announced 33 restrictions on funding for the coal sector since the start of 2018, new research has found.

New and improved policies for climate change ©iStock
New and improved policies for climate change ©iStock

That amounts to a new policy being introduced every two weeks, with more than 100 institutions with $10bn (£8bn) in assets under management having now pulled finance for coal.

This includes 40% of the top 40 global banks restricting lending, while at least 20 insurers – representing a fifth of the industry’s assets – have excluded coal from their portfolios.

The research from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) also shows that insurance giants AXA and Allianz are among those to end or restrict coverage for coal.

“For environmental, reputational and financial reasons, coal is a toxic asset for global investors announcing new and improved policies responding to climate change,” research author, Tim Buckley, said.

“The strong leadership of a few globally significant institutions is increasingly turning into capital flight by the many, with one new announcement every two weeks in recent years.”

The rate of coal exits since 2013 stands at one a month, with the latest rise to one every two weeks demonstrating how “global momentum increases when significant investors act,” Buckley added.

Of the 33 coal exits announced over the last 14 months, 24 are new, while nine build on previous commitments, with financial institutions in Asia starting to align with their European counterparts.

The World Bank announced its first ever restriction back in 2013, with the hundredth announcement coming from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development last December.

A further five policies have been announced this year, including restrictions from Barclays Bank UK and Export Development Canada, with the latest move coming from Austria’s VIG.

“With the energy transition to cheaper technologies gathering pace, the likelihood of investors having to wear billions of dollars in additional stranded assets is impossible to ignore,” said Buckley.

“The smart money is jumping ship. The only question now is, who’s next?”

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