Coal Miners Feel the Burn – by Rhiannon Hoyle (Wall Street Journal – November 26, 2015)

SYDNEY—Coal-mining companies whose stock prices have tumbled could use some friends. Instead, they have become the target of campaigners hoping to cast the sector as the new Big Tobacco.

With a meeting of global leaders to discuss climate change beginning Monday in Paris, the campaign has been building support.

This week, German insurer Allianz SE, which manages roughly $2.1 trillion in assets, said it would no longer invest in mining companies or utilities that generate more than 30% of their sales or energy output from coal.

Allianz has about $4.25 billion invested in coal, mostly in bonds, and will gradually exit from the sector over coming months as they mature.

Two years of talks on coal with several nongovernmental organizations, including Transparency International, WWF and Germanwatch, influenced the money manager’s final call, although Chief Executive Oliver Bäte said Allianz is also aware of efforts to slow global warming and what he said are the economic risks involved with coal-focused businesses.

Mining firms including Glencore PLC and Anglo American PLC have argued that they are working to make coal cleaner to burn and are important providers of jobs and fuel. But they worry environmental activists may persuade some big money managers to drop them for good.

“One of the challenges the coal sector faces is an increasingly militant antimining, anticoal campaign,” Glencore coal chief Peter Freyberg said in a recent speech. “This campaign fundamentally ignores the global energy reality and the resources required for economic growth and development.”

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