Swiss Re leads the way in shaping the global climate agenda

All eyes are focused on Durban for the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17). Swiss Re is participating as an official member of Switzerland’s country delegation. But for us, the climate talks are much more than a once-a-year event. We’ve been paving the way in addressing the climate change challenge for more than two decades.

The insurance industry has been instrumental in pushing for more concerted action on the issue of climate change. Swiss Re has been at the forefront, being one of the first companies to identify the dangers of climate change more than 20 years ago.

We’re still shaping the global climate agenda through innovative risk transfer solutions, cutting-edge research and open dialogue with our public and private sector partners.

Insuring the uninsurable

At COP 17 and beyond, we continue to highlight the important role insurance plays in mitigating the effects of climate change and helping communities shore up resilience.

The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative is an example. The programme makes weather insurance available to poor farmers and rural households in Senegal by giving them the option to pay for premiums with their labour. Without this access, many would be at risk of losing their crops and seed money during a drought. By 2016, over 18,000 households in Senegal are expected to have access to insurance through the R4 programme.

Research in action

With their promise of low-carbon energy supplies, renewable sources are one of the main topics in the climate change debate. But the drive to increase their use also brings with possible risks, risks that if not addressed could be a detriment to the industry’s development.

Swiss Re supports further research on this issue by sponsoring the Economist Intelligence Unit report “Managing the risk in renewable energy.”

The report analyses the risks associated with financing, owning, constructing and operating power plants run on renewable fuels and is based on a survey of 280 senior executives from the sector.

Widening our circle of engagement

Being a leader in addressing climate change doesn’t stop within the walls of Swiss Re. Board member and former Swiss Re CEO John Coomber continues to spread awareness of climate change throughout the industry as chair of Climate Wise, the collaborative insurance initiative. In his latest commentary, he discusses protecting growth in a world of “new normals.” In addition, we’re also the founding sponsor of Climate Week NYC and have recently signed a three-year partnership with USAID to help communities build resilience to climate change.

Swiss Re also shows its support for climate change mitigation by being a signatory to innovative climate change declarations. For the third year in a row, we’ve joined other major asset owners and managers in supporting the Global Investor Statement on Climate Change. The report calls for effectively implemented investment-grade climate change and energy policies.  The Statement’s 285 signatories represent over USD 20 trillion in assets.

We’re also a signatory to the 2°C Challenge Communiqué, an initiative that implores governments to break the deadlock on international climate change negotiations, and have either sustained or increased our rankings on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the Carbon Disclosure Project.

For more on our climate change work, please see our Rethinking section.

Published 29 November 2011

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