On the 9th of May a representative of a Polish NGO Association Workshop for All Beings called on Allianz at its Annual General Meeting in Munich to close loopholes in its climate policy and to stop underwriting coal companies which are developing harmful coal-based projects.
On the 4th of May Allianz had announced that it would immediately stop insuring single coal-fired power plants and coal mines, and that it would not renew existing contracts for such projects. It would also ban all companies planning to build more than 500 MW of new coal capacity from its investment portfolio.
This decision was welcomed by Polish NGOs which, in April 2018, called on Allianz to divest from Polish coal companies ENEA and ENERGA which plan to build a new coal-fired 1000 MW power plant Ostrołęka C. They do, however, point out a major flaw of the Allianz’s new climate policy.
‘Coal combustion is one of the main causes of climate change and further developing this energy sector undermines the crucial aim of the Paris Agreement: holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. We support Allianz’s decision to phase out coal yet the insurer has left itself a back door to keep its engagement in harmful projects. Allianz will not completely withdraw from the coal sector by 2040 and continue to offer company-wide policies for coal companies. Contrary to the Paris Agreement, many such companies have very aggressive coal expansion plans. Polish coal companies are a very good example of this’ – explains Alan Weiss, Association Workshop for All Beings.
Allianz leads a consortium of insurers which underwrites the Opole Power Plant (PGE) – the largest European coal-fired unit in development. It also underwrites the Kozienice Power Plant (ENEA) and the Jaworzno Power Plant (TAURON) as well as a lignite company ZE-PAK.
Allianz is also a shareholder of ENEA and ENERGA – Polish companies which plan to build Ostrołęka C. According to independent experts, Ostrołęka C, the most expensive and the least useful coal-fired power plant in Poland, will have negative impact on public health, environment and economy. It was estimated that, if completed, the plant would cause approx. 2000 premature deaths and 110 thousand asthma incidences in children over its 40-year lifetime. Return on the investment will never balance the costs and the involved risks are very high.
‘While the global community strives for climate protection, the companies insured by Allianz develop their coal projects and do not even have any intention to phase it out in the future. PGE and ZE-PAK plan to open new lignite open-cast mines while ENEA and ENERGA are developing the Ostrołęka C project. Further insuring them sends an alarming signal that they can keep ignoring the Paris Agreement and continue their business-as-usual to the detriment of the Polish society. As citizens fully aware of health impacts of coal combustion and threats arising from the climate crisis we cannot turn a blind eye to it’ – says Alan Weiss.
Reports on negative impacts of the Ostrołęka C power plant and its financial unfeasibility and risks were handed over to Allianz CEO Mr. Oliver Bäte. In response to NGO’s questions, Allianz confirmed that it no longer underwrites coal power plants and mines which would mean that it wouldn’t renew existing contracts with facilities such as Opole and Kozienice power plants. The new climate policy is being discussed with Allianz Poland and environmental, social and governance questions of companies such as ZE-PAK are being verified.
‘The answers provided by Allianz are very general. First and foremost Allianz gets rid of large coal projects but it intends to cooperate with coal companies for further 20 years. We are glad that Allianz distances itself from Ostrołęka C but we also hope our report will convince the insurer that coal companies which push ahead with such harmful projects do not deserve its support via investment or insurance. 2040 is to far a deadline to end this cooperation and we are counting on Allianz to set a more ambitious goal’ – concludes Weiss.
Alan Weiss: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +48 606 534 479
Diana Maciąga: email@example.com, tel: +48 502 646 890
Association Workshop for All Beings