French global insurer AXA has pledged to phase out coal from business activities as part of its climate strategy.
The company said it intended to divest its insurance and investment exposure to coal by 2030 in the European Union and OECD countries, and in the rest of the world by 2040.
It also announced its plans to encourage companies to produce a coal-phase out plans compatible with the UN Paris climate agreement by 2021.
The policy comes just ahead of the fifth edition of Climate Finance Day in Paris, and will exclude approximately 400 companies with coal plant and mine expansion plans. It also includes a refusal to renew contracts for clients that are highly exposed to coal.
Lucie Pinson, adviser for Friends of the Earth France's finance campaign, said: "AXA has set a new global benchmark for best practice with this coal phase-out policy. Zero tolerance for coal expansion is the only responsible action in a carbon-constrained world, and dumping coal companies like RWE, Adani, and KEPCO is essential for financial institutions that do not want to be complicit in the damage these companies cause to the climate and human health. Financial institutions with weaker coal policies, like BNP Paribas and Talanx, now risk looking flat-footed."
Kaarina Kolle, finance and utility coordinator at Europe Beyond Coal, added: "Banks, investors and insurers are now under great pressure to up their game on climate with new coal policy announcements. The only defensible position is one like AXA's: a strong 2030 phase-out commitment for EU and OECD countries, coupled with detailed near-term plans on delivering it. This is the minimum standard for any financial institution committed to the Paris climate agreement's 1.5 degree warming limit."
"AXA is leading the way by driving its coal portfolio down to zero by 2030. German insurers' commitments to stop backing coal by 2038 or 2040 are not good enough. The EU and OECD coal plants, coal mines and companies they insure and invest in are duty-bound to shut down by 2030 at the absolute latest. They are running huge, reckless risks if they fail to do so," said Regine Richter, energy campaigner at Urgewald.