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QBE to review model on fossil fuels

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QBE will rethink its underwriting strategy as it again faces pressure to stop covering coal-related business.

An annual ranking shows Australia’s only global insurer, along with its US peers, still has strong business ties with the coal sector compared with leading European rivals.

QBE scores zero for withdrawing coverage and reducing investments in coal businesses, according to the Greenpeace-backed Unfriend Coal campaign.

The insurer says it is working on the matter and is in the final stages of a detailed investment portfolio review.

But local activist group Market Forces, a member of the global campaign, is having none of it.

“QBE is in a hole and it’s still digging,” campaigner Pablo Brait told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “The scorecard clearly shows QBE is falling behind its international competitors on climate action.

“Major insurers such as Axa, Allianz and Zurich have dumped their coal company shares and are restricting their underwriting of coal. QBE continues to do nothing in this area despite climate change-fuelled natural disasters threatening its profits and entire business model.”

However, a QBE spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au the insurer takes climate change seriously, as demonstrated by its support for recommendations made by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

“Climate change is a significant risk for the industry and QBE is acting to address climate-related risks and opportunities for our business,” the spokesman said. “[This year] we published an action plan in our half-year report that describes how we will implement the TCFDs recommendations.

“[Next year] we will also review our underwriting strategy in line with detailed analysis of climate-related risks and opportunities.”