Climate change discussions heat up

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

And we’re still helping to shape the global climate agenda today through innovative risk transfer solutions, cutting-edge research, open dialogue with our public and private sector partners, and our backing of the Durban climate change conference.

Swiss Re was among insurance industry representatives to be invited to meet with two US senators at the Capitol in Washington DC to discuss the impact that climate change and severe weather are having on society and the need for this situation to be addressed. Mark Way, Head Sustainability Americas for Swiss Re, addressed Senators Bernie Sanders  (VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) at a press conference on Thursday, March 1, 2012.

The event, aimed at reinvigorating conversations on climate change among US policy-makers, was also attended by the President of the Reinsurance Association of America (RAA), the Chief Risk Officer of Willis Re, and the insurance industry director of Ceres, a non-profit organization that leads a national coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change.

The senators recognized the crucial role the insurance industry has to play in the ongoing debate around climate change. Senator Sanders stated: "It is extremely important that we have the scientific community documenting the impact of global warming but it is equally important we have people in the business community who are also speaking out about the risks associated with global warming. Perhaps no industry better understands the impact of global warming than the insurance industry whose job it is to analyze risk."

In Mark's address he highlighted the need for an international agreement on carbon emissions reductions which in turn requires a strong commitment from the US Congress for such an agreement to be reached. He also spoke about the need to increase the resiliency of society to weather related risks.

"Society is simply too vulnerable to weather impacts as we saw so clearly in the unprecedented flooding, tornado and drought events that occurred in states such as Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Missouri and Texas last year."

However, there are opportunities to significantly reduce these impacts through investment in economically attractive risk reduction measures. Mark added: "Our research suggests that in Forida, for example, up to 40% of future annual expected losses could be averted by such an approach."

Published 08 March 2012

Photo Gallery

Swiss Re's Mark Way (far right) addresses (L-R) Senator Bernie Sanders, Pete Thomas (Willis Re), Cynthia McHale (Ceres) and Frank Nutter (RAA)

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