Building a sustainable energy future: risks and opportunities

New report examines six climate change-influenced scenarios for the global energy mix along with the risks, focusing on renewable energy and the role insurance can play in enabling innovation in the sector.

We are paying the price for progress. Fossil fuels power our way of life, but greenhouse gases produced by those same fuels have a negative effect on our climate. And as the world population continues to grow – along with the global economy - so does the demand for energy.

How can we address the effects of climate change caused by oil, gas and coal, while at the same time satisfy the energy needs of a developing world?  That's one of the questions asked in Building a sustainable energy future: risks and opportunities (PDF, 1.15 MB), a collaboration between Swiss Re and public-private sector partners.

The report, compiled in conjunction with the Scenarios for Climate Change project, presents six scenarios for future power supply mixes in 2050, taking into account financial, political and societal factors. It also analyses the possible effect of low-carbon options, such as renewable energy sources, on climate change.

A guide for decisionmakers

Building a sustainable energy future is presented to help governments, corporations and businesses plan their power needs as they seek to get the mix right: fossil fuels will still play an important role while renewable energy will become increasingly important. But, the risks will grow as well.

The authors examine the important role re/insurance industry can play in sharing risk management expertise, an essential component in enabling growth in the renewable energy sector.

Adaptation increasing in importance

The scenarios in Building a sustainable energy future range from a future with no attempt to curb global warming to a "slow-greening" of the economy. Technological influences and shifting political landscapes are also taken into account.

"This study shows clearly that renewable energy will play an important role in the global power mix of the future," says report co-author Andreas Spiegel, Swiss Re Head Sustainability and Risk.

"At the same time, however it also shows that adaptation to climate change will increase in importance as the window of opportunity for mitigating climate change is getting more and more narrow."

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Published 21 Jan 2013

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