Environmental protesters in Croydon today joined demonstrations across the country to oppose plans to open a coal mine in Cumbria, claiming an early victory as five major insurers gave guarantees that they will not provide cover for the controversial planned mine.
West Cumbria Mining Ltd wants to extract 2.78million tonnes of coking coal annually from what would be Britain’s first new underground coal mine in 30 years. The project has faced fierce public opposition with more than 100,000 people joining the campaign.
Opposition to the mine says that it would go against the government’s legally-binding net zero emissions target.
XR Croydon, with canary yellow feathers fluttering, staged a “die-in” on the steps outside the Station Road offices of insurer Markel, calling on them to rule out insuring the West Cumbria Coal Mine.
“We want to make it clear to Markel that new fossil fuel exploration is incompatible with a liveable planet – we cannot stand by whilst climate catastrophe is unfolding before us,” said XR Croydon protester Gill Slater.
“Insurers like Markel have the chance to stand on the right side of history and reject the West Cumbria mine.”
The insurers that have ruled out underwriting the mine so far include Aegis Managing Agency, Argenta Syndicate Management, Argo Managing Agency, 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,” said XR Croydon.
The national protest saw similar demonstrations in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, York, Wrexham and Cardiff, organised by Coal Action Network, whose Andrew Taylor 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.
“Five insurers stating that they won’t be involved is just the beginning.”
Over the past few years coal companies have found it increasingly hard to find traditional insurance for new and existing mines, leading some to take on additional costs and risks. Many mainstream insurers who used to underwrite coal projects have put in sector-wide exclusions for coal.
Coal Action Network hopes that the campaign to cut off insurance from the West Cumbria mine will lead to the insurance industry expanding existing policy exclusions to include coal for steel production.
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