On Friday September 15th, as insurers and banks faced a wave of national protest, Coal Action Network announced that five insurers have given guarantees that they will not provide cover for the planned controversial West Cumbria Coal Mine.
The insurers that have ruled out underwriting the mine are AEGIS Managing Agency, Argenta Syndicate Management, Argo, Hannover Re and Talanx. These are the first financial institutions to rule out any involvement with the project, and the win represents a new phase in the campaign to stop the project from going ahead.
Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels on September 15-17th saw half a million people joining protests across the globe to call for a just transition away from coal, oil and gas in history, making it the largest climate mobilisation since the start of the pandemic. Over 400 actions, marches, rallies, and events took place around the world, coordinated by more than 780 endorsing organisations with millions of participants taking part. In the UK Protests took place in London, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, York, Wrexham, Cardiff, Shrewsbury and Croydon. Hundreds of campaigners from Extinction Rebellion, Mothers Rebellion and Coal Action Network took to the streets assembling with banners and placards, at the doors of financial institutions, yet to rule out supporting the proposed mine.
They were joined by Buddhist and Quaker groups and other members of the local community. Some groups took part in theatrical actions, dressing as canaries to draw the link between the birds used in mines and the toxicity this mine will bring, while others held silent vigils.
These actions at Probitas, AXA XL, Chubb, Hiscox, Travelers, Chubb, Markel, CNA Hardy, and QBE Insurers as well as HSBC bank set out to raise awareness of the issue, by talking to passers by and staff, delivering letters to the insurers at and putting up blue plaques to publicly criticise these financial institutions and make it clear the this is No Time For A Coal Mine.
Andrew Taylor from Coal Action Network said: “The British government has ignored the pressure from people across the UK who are calling for them to stop the climate-wrecking West Cumbria coal mine, so today people have taken to the streets to demand that insurers and banks, including HSBC, turn their backs on this disastrous fossil fuel project. Four insurers stating that they won’t be involved is just the beginning.”
West Cumbria Mining Ltd wants to extract 2.78 million tonnes of coking coal annually from what would be the UK's first new underground coal mine in 30 years. The project has faced fierce public opposition with over 100k people joining the campaign and legal challenges as campaigners believe it goes against the government’s legally-binding net zero emissions target.
Claude Fourcroy, a spokesperson for Money Rebellion who supported the national day of action said: “The West Cumbria mine is incompatible with the UK’s climate commitments and will fuel climate breakdown. The City of London needs to stop funding and insuring new fossil fuels now.”