Zurich Launches ‘Market-focused’ Climate Initiative

January 22, 2008

The Zurich Financial Services Group has launched a global initiative focused on the development of products and services addressing the evolving risks associated with climate change, as well as the establishment of a long-range carbon management strategy.

“Kicking-off our global Climate Initiative today, I am convinced, sets Zurich on the course of becoming a leader in the identification and management of climate related risks, as well as preparing us to take meaningful and sustainable steps to manage our own carbon footprint,” Indicated CEO James J. Schiro.

Zurich described the initiative as part of its effort to bring together different forms of coverage in order to “establish a consistent and focused approach to the risk class globally, and facilitate economic and policy-oriented research that can then be integrated into the Group’s product development activities.”

As part of the effort, Zurich has established an internal Climate Office, charged with “driving an understanding of climate related risks across its businesses,” said the bulletin. The new facility will report directly to Zurich’s Global Chief Underwriting Officer, Mike Kerner, and “will be fully embedded in Zurich’s underwriting infrastructure, demonstrating Zurich’s market-focused climate change approach.”

In addition Zurich has established a “Climate Change Advisory Council,” consisting of both internal functional leaders and external advisors that will directly report to Zurich’s Group Management on strategic and operational issues associated with climate change.

The first two external advisors come from the U.S.: former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Dean of Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Zurich said their selection indicates the importance it places on the Council, as both men “are highly respected in the field of climate and environmental policy, and will add considerable value to Zurich’s climate efforts.” Zurich plans to name additional members to the Council in the coming months.

“Bringing the expertise of Sherwood Boehlert and Dean von Weizsäcker to bear on our climate efforts will ensure that we remain focused and effective,” commented Schiro. “They are both leaders in their fields.”

The final element of Zurich’s climate initiative is the launch of an applied research program with organizations and institutions to examine the critical economic, finance and policy issues associated with climate change. The first such partnership is with Dean von Weizsäcker’s Bren School, where Zurich will fund a distinguished visitors program. The bulletin also noted that, “as part of this partnership, the Bren School will assess Zurich’s carbon footprint and develop a consistent approach as to how Zurich can actively manage its carbon emissions in a meaningful and sustainable manner.”

Kerner stress that the “risks associated with climate change go well beyond rising sea levels, and reflect the burgeoning regulatory and financial infrastructures being created to address this major societal concern. Tapping into the experts in these fields will ensure that our products remain fresh and innovative, and effectively address the rapidly changing risk profile.”

Zurich hosted a media conference in connection with the launch of the climate change initiatives. Details and a replay of the conference may be obtained on the Group’s web site at: http://www.zurich.com .

Source: Zurich Financial Services

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