Major insurer plans to drop coverage for coal companies
It's the first major insurance company with operations in the U.S. to move away from coal.
- Chubb Ltd., which operates in the U.S., plans to no longer underwrite construction of new coal-fired power plants and to stop investing in companies that generate significant revenue from coal.
- Insurance companies have to cover losses from natural disasters, which are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change.
- Climate change could also cause individual insurance premiums to rise significantly.
A major international commercial insurance company has announced plans to move away from insuring and investing in coal. Chubb Ltd, which operates in 54 countries including the U.S., said it will no longer underwrite construction of new coal-fired power plants. Chubb also plans to stop investing in companies that generate more than 30 percent of their revenues from coal mining or production and to phase out existing coverage for companies that exceed that threshold.
The move makes Chubb the first major insurance company with operations in the U.S. to move away from coal. It's good news for those concerned about climate change. Coal is the single largest contributor to global warming, yet it remains the world's top source for electricity.
"Chubb recognizes the reality of climate change and the substantial impact of human activity on our planet," Evan G. Greenberg, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "The policy we are implementing today reflects Chubb's commitment to do our part as a steward of the Earth."
Insurance companies are in a unique position to make it increasingly difficult for coal-fired power to exist, as Unfriend Coal's Insuring Coal No More report states.
"Without their coverage of the numerous natural, technical, commercial and political risks of coal projects, new coal mines and power plants could not be built and existing operations would have to shut down."
Insurance companies also have an incentive to move away from coal. After all, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, which insurance companies have to cover. So, insurance companies can cut future costs by not covering or investing in coal.
"Chubb's announcement is a clear sign that coal is becoming uninsurable worldwide," Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, said in a statement. "With the U.S. industry joining this global trend, governments and power utilities should see that the industry is moving beyond coal."
In Europe and Australia, about a dozen major insurance companies have taken similar actions to limit their coverage of coal companies.
Climate change could also raise costs of individual insurance plans, as Ernst Rauch, chief climatologist at the reinsurance company Munich Re, told The Guardian. "If the risk from wildfires, flooding, storms, or hail is increasing, then the only sustainable option we have is to adjust our risk prices accordingly. In the long run it might become a social issue," he said. "Affordability is so critical [because] some people on low and average incomes in some regions will no longer be able to buy insurance."
- Chubb Insurance Company Pulls Back From Coal Industry : NPR ›
- An Insurance Scorecard on Coal and Climate Change - Unfriend Coal ›
- First major U.S. insurance company moves away from coal | Grist ›
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
A new paradigm for machine vision has just been demonstrated.
- Scientists have invented a way for a sheet of glass to perform neural computing.
- The glass uses light patterns to identify images without a computer or power.
- It's image recognition at the speed of light.
A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.
- The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
- The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
- It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
"A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain," Musk said, referring to tests of the device.
- Neuralink seeks to build a brain-machine interface that would connect human brains with computers.
- No tests have been performed in humans, but the company hopes to obtain FDA approval and begin human trials in 2020.
- Musk said the technology essentially provides humans the option of "merging with AI."