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Shareholders pressure Suncorp to act on fossil fuels

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Environmental campaign group Market Forces has submitted a resolution on behalf of more than 100 Suncorp shareholders, demanding the insurer cuts its ties with fossil fuels.

A Suncorp spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au today the resolution has been received, adding that its exposure to the fossil fuels industry is "not material". It will have its AGM in September after releasing its 2018/19 full year financial results next month.

The shareholder resolution calls for the insurer to set targets on reducing its investment and underwriting exposure to coal, oil and gas in line with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“Suncorp’s shareholders and customers are feeling the financial impacts of the climate crisis, while at the same time their company is willing to support the expansion of the dirty industries fuelling the crisis,” Market Forces campaigner Pablo Brait said.

“Global warming poses an existential threat to the insurance sector. Suncorp needs to act as though limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is the fight of its life, because that’s exactly what it is.

“It is in everyone’s interest that Suncorp phases out insurance and investments in coal, oil and gas. The company’s bottom line, shareholder value and the millions of Australians who trust Suncorp to protect their lives, homes and livelihoods deserve strong action on climate change."

Suncorp says its exposure to the fossil fuels industry is not material and accounts for less than 0.5% of its insurance business and investment portfolio, and is a negligible portion of its commercial lending business.

The insurer has also taken steps to address the global warming challenge with the launch of its Climate Change Action Plan, which aligns with the goals of the Paris Agreement, a spokesman says.

“Suncorp does not directly invest in, finance or underwrite new thermal coal mining extraction projects, or new thermal coal electricity generation, and we will phase out these exposures by 2025,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“We will seek to increase exposure to businesses that have a positive environmental impact, including renewable energy generation and technology.

“We review our approach annually and continue to engage openly and constructively with our stakeholders as we work together to build the resilience of our business and the community.”