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    • Protect the environment. Think before you print.

Insurance conference highlights the cost of climate change

September 23, 2019

A week before the annual Climate Week event in New York, the insurance industry gathered to discuss, debate and demystify the impact of a warming planet.

Insurers, brokers, risk managers and business and community leaders got a jump on Climate Week with a day-long conference on climate risk.

The second annual Insurance & Climate Risk Americas conference took place in midtown Manhattan on September 16, a week before the start of Climate Week NYC, a weeklong series of events in New York focused on accelerating climate action.

Barry Franklin, Head of Risk for Zurich North America, joined other insurance industry leaders on a keynote panel discussion titled, “Engaging with climate risk with both sides of the balance sheet.”

During the opening comments, Franklin spoke about Zurich’s role in helping its customers become resilient and encouraging them to “build back better” after a loss.

“I would look at our focus on climate change as supporting the long-term transition through our investment and underwriting decisions, product development and so forth, while also focusing on the near-term imperative to keep our customers resilient, helping them build the capabilities to be resilient, to recover quickly and to get back into business,” he said.

Franklin also addressed Zurich’s decision to develop a methodology to apply science-based targets to the fossil fuel industry for underwriting and investments. In June, Zurich announced it had signed the Business Ambition for 1.5° pledge, a commitment to limit average global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2030. The updated position outlines that Zurich generally will no longer underwrite or invest in companies that:

  • generate more than 30% of their revenue from mining thermal coal, or produce more than 20 million tons of thermal coal per year;
  • generate more than 30% of their electricity from coal;
  • are in the process of developing any new coal mining or coal power infrastructure;
  • generate at least 30% of their revenue directly from the extraction of oil from oil sands;
  • are purpose-built (or “dedicated”) transportation infrastructure operators for oil sands products, including pipelines and railway transportation;
  • generate more than 30% of their revenue from mining oil shale or generate more than 30% of their electricity from oil shale.

“We’re taking a stance as an organization. We’re going to do this to encourage and support that transition to renewable energy sources,” Franklin said.

Zurich will continue to drive discussions about climate risk when Alison Martin, CEO EMEA and Group Chief Risk Officer for Zurich Insurance, visits New York to participate in a series of meetings and events during Climate Week.

In the short video below, Franklin discusses why Zurich is leading the fight against climate change and how the industry can help its customers transition to a low-carbon future.