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December 23, 2019

In nod to climate change, The Hartford sidesteps insuring, investing in coal

The Hartford has taken a position on coal, the longtime king of America’s electric grid.

The property-casualty insurer says it will no longer insure or invest in companies that generate over 25 percent of their revenues from thermal coal mining or energy production from coal. 

It will also halt insuring and investing in outfits that produce more than 25 percent of their revenues from the extraction of oil from tar sands.

The Hartford’s policy change comes amid a national shift towards clean energy as U.S. power plants are quickly dumping coal in favor of solar, wind and natural gas.

America's power plants are expected to consume less coal next year than at any point since 1978, according to forecasts by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That's despite President Donald Trump's efforts to revive coal by slashing environmental regulations.

PHOTO | Steve Laschever
The Hartford's CEO Christopher Swift, shown in the insurer's Capital City headquarters.

Christopher Swift, CEO and chairman of The Hartford, said action was needed to help offset the impact of coal on our climate.

“Extreme weather affects people’s lives and businesses – and the risks are getting worse,” Swift said in a statement. “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. That’s why we have taken a position on coal and tar sands.”

According to The Hartford’s new policy, it will no longer underwrite or invest in the construction and operation of new coal-fired plants. It will also phase out existing underwriting relationships and divest publicly traded investments exceeding the threshold by 2023, among other stipulations.

Almost a third of the Earth's electricity will come from renewables by 2024, according to the International Energy Agency.

Renewable power capacity is expected to surge by 50 percent globally in the next five years, "meteoric" growth that is equivalent to the amount of electricity currently churned out by America's power plants, the energy watchdog said in a report published earlier this year.

That blockbuster growth, led by solar power, is being driven by plunging costs, smarter policies and rising concern about the climate crisis.

A CNN report was used in this story

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