French insurance major AXA has decided to phase out insurance and investment exposure to coal in the European Union (EU) and OECD countries by 2030.

As part of its climate strategy, the French insurer will also retreat from similar activities in the rest of the world by 2040.

About 400 companies with coal plant and mine expansion plans will not be provided with insurance protection by AXA.

Additionally, the existing insurance contracts will also not be renewed for clients highly exposed to coal-based operations.

AXA also said that it will stop offering insurance contracts besides employee benefit covers to firms building new coal projects bigger than 300MW.

Furthermore, AXA plans to encourage companies to release a coal-phase out plan in accordance with the UN Paris climate agreement by 2021.

Friends of the Earth France’s finance campaign adviser Lucie Pinson said: “AXA has set a new global benchmark for best practice with this coal phase-out policy.

“Zero tolerance for coal expansion is the only responsible action in a carbon-constrained world, and dumping coal companies like RWE, Adani, and KEPCO is essential for financial institutions that do not want to be complicit in the damage these companies cause to the climate and human health. Financial institutions with weaker coal policies, like BNP Paribas and Talanx, now risk looking flat-footed.”