By - Jim Vess

The Hartford to stop insuring and investing in coal and tar sands over climate concerns

Energize Weekly, January 8, 2020

The Hartford Financial Services Group said it will no longer insure or invest in companies mining or using coal or developing tar sands oil over concerns about risks linked to climate change.

The company, based in Hartford, Conn., said it would not deal with companies that get 25 percent of their revenue from mining thermal coal or 25 percent of their energy production from coal.

The Hartford, as the insurer is known, will also stop insuring and investing in companies that generate more than 25 percent of their revenues from the extraction of oil from tar sands.

“The world needs affordable, accessible energy to support global economic progress and, at the same time, action is needed to mitigate the impact such activity has on our climate,” Christopher Swift, The Hartford’s CEO, said in a statement.

“Extreme weather affects people’s lives and businesses – and the risks are getting worse. As an insurer and asset manager we recognize the growing cost of this crisis, and we’re determined to use our resources and influence to address the challenge,” Swift said. “That’s why we have taken a position on coal and tar sands.”

In July, Chubb Ltd., an insurance company with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, announced a new policy under which it would not underwrite risks related to the construction of new coal-fired plants; not insure companies that generate more than 30 percent of their revenues from mining thermal coal; and not insure utilities generating more than 30 percent of their energy from coal.

“Chubb recognizes the reality of climate change and the substantial impact of human activity on our planet,” the Swiss insurer said in announcing the policy. “Chubb expects a transition over time to greater reliance on alternative and renewable fuel solutions to meet energy needs.”

The Hartford’s “policy parameters” include:

  • No new underwriting of or investments in the construction and operation of new coal-fired plants;
  • No new underwriting of or investments in companies that generate more than 25 percent of their revenues from thermal coal mining or more than 25 percent of their energy production from coal;
  • No new underwriting of or investments in companies that generate more than 25 percent of their revenues directly from the extraction of oil from tar sands;
  • Phase out existing underwriting relationships and divest publicly traded investments which exceed the threshold by 2023; and
  • Exceptions for business lines that cover employees, such as disability, life and other voluntary products offered by our Group Benefits division – where we are providing protection to people.

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