German re-insurance giant Munich Re said Monday it would scale back investments in coal-related businesses and stop insuring new plants and mines extracting the fuel, to help the battle against climate change.
Chief executive Joachim Wenning, writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, said Munich Re will no longer invest in shares or bonds issued by companies that generate "more than 30 percent" of their turnover from coal.
Munich Re will also in principle stop insuring "new coal-fired plants or mines in industrialised countries", though exceptions could be made on a case by case basis. The move sees Munich Re join a string of insurance giants in shunning coal in a bid to become more climate-friendly and help achieve the targets set out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
The pact aims to cap global warming at "well below" 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels this century, by curbing fossil fuel burning. "Climate change is a fact," Wenning wrote.
"We want to make our contribution to the two-degrees goal", he said, adding that Munich Re would support innovation in renewable energy projects. Rival re-insurers Swiss Re and France's Scor have announced similar withdrawals from the coal sector, as have top insurers like Germany's Allianz, Italy's Generali and France's Axa.
German environmental campaign group Urgewald welcomed Munich Re's announcement as "a positive step" but said it didn't "go far enough". It criticised Munich Re for continuing to underwrite polluting, coal-fired plants in emerging economies, particularly in Asia. Munich Re is due to release its second quarter results on Wednesday.