Tokyo-based Insurer, MS&AD, Remains International Laggard After Unveiling Coal Position
September 30, 2020
Statement by the Insure Our Future campaign.
Today, Tokyo-based MS&AD Insurance Group, one of the world’s top-10 insurers, released its position on underwriting coal power projects as part of its updated plan on sustainable business principles. Like its counterparts Tokio Marine and Sompo, MS&AD’s position is a misleading attempt to brand itself as sustainable.
Yuki Tanabe, Program Director at the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), says: “SOMPO, Tokio Marine and MS&AD have adopted entry level coal policies that are just at the start line, now they must race to the top to ensure consistency with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. The three insurers should strengthen their coal policies and commit to not underwrite insurance for any new coal-fired power projects.”
The newly adopted MS&AD corporate statement on sustainable business activities states that MS&AD “in principle, will not underwrite or invest in new coal-fired power plants,” unless deemed necessary for a “stable energy supply of the country concerned.” As a result, it leaves the door wide open for the company to continue to engage in business as usual, engaging with coal power companies and underwriting projects around the world, without regard for the earth’s finite resources and communities affected.
Takayoshi Yokoyama, Leader of 350.org Japan, says: “MS&AD’s coal position announced today is just as weak as its counterparts in terms of coal investments and underwriting. It is vital that MS&AD and other mega insurers adopt more robust policies that abolish coal fired power stations completely by 2030.”
A group of Japanese NGOs from the No Coal Japan campaign is also responded, by urging the company to withdraw all support from companies and projects associated with the expansion of coal power and mining, including the Vung Ang 2 project in Vietnam.
Most significantly, MS&AD’s statement of principles fails to incorporate the entire value chain of coal, and fails to offer targets for divesting from companies or assets with significant exposure to coal, as per the Global Coal Exit List. It is also not clear whether this new policy is applicable to all of its corporate business affiliates currently specializing in resource extraction and energy, including MS Amlin. Despite the company’s stated commitment to uphold human rights, the new set of principles introduced by MS&AD do not take into account internationally accepted standards to respect indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent and self-determination over ancestral territories.
Tanya Roberts-Davis, Insure Our Future’s East Asia Finance Advisor, states: “Although MS&AD trumpets its aspirational commitment to addressing climate change, its investment and underwriting activities fail to mirror such lofty ideals. MS&AD’s weak policy on sustainability principles falls far behind other global insurance companies that have already started to take meaningful steps towards averting climate chaos by veering away from the coal industry.”