Zurich Financial Services is marking the first year anniversary of the launch of its global Climate Initiative. The company noted, that the program has “led to the development of new products and services addressing the evolving risks associated with climate change, significant steps in measuring and managing Zurich’s own carbon footprint and the facilitation of climate change related research.”
Michael Kerner, Zurich’s Global Chief Underwriting Officer and Head of the Climate Initiative, commented: “The progress in the first year of Zurich’s Climate Initiative convinces me that our market-based approach is bearing fruit. Through deep discussions with customers, government officials and other experts, we are increasing our knowledge of our customers’ climate-related risks, and successfully driving progress in product and market development to address those risks.”
Zurich’s bulletin listed the following Achievements of its Climate Initiative:
— Product Development: nine new General and Life Insurance products were developed in 2008 to address the various risks customers face as a result of climate change, ranging from environmentally sensitive investment options to expanded coverage for renewable energy sources and sustainable property rebuild options. Particularly innovative in this area are the two specialized products to meet the insurance needs of carbon capture and sequestration projects.
— Carbon footprint: following an in-depth review of its own carbon footprint, Zurich is announcing a Group-wide CO2-emission reduction target of 10 percent by 2013, which will be pursued through a combination of cleaner energy sources, energy efficiency measures, reduced air travel and the gradual transition of the car fleet to more fuel efficient cars.
— Research and public dialogue: in order to deepen collaboration with academics and other experts Zurich funded a distinguished visitors program at the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and engaged in a series of dialogues with governments and regulators.
Zurich indicated that these “first-year successes” all reflect the Climate Initiative’s “three pillar strategy,” which it described as follows: “First, Zurich established an internal Climate Office to embed awareness and understanding of climate related risks across its businesses. Second, a Climate Change Advisory Council with internal functional leaders and external advisors was established to advise Zurich’s Group Management on strategic and operational issues. And third, to gain further understanding of the environmental transformations, Zurich launched an applied research program with academic organizations and institutions.”
Zurich said it had developed nine new products during 2008 “in the General and Life Insurance segments, addressing the climate-related needs of retail, commercial and corporate customers. These new products address, among other areas, the growing demands of alternative energy markets, the desire for sustainable building construction, and the option for customers to tie their savings to environmentally sensitive investments.”
Lindene Patton, Climate Product Officer, explained: “As an insurer, Zurich’s role in society is to deliver the risk management solutions our customers need to address the risks associated with everyday life, which are increasingly impacted by climate change. This demands a deep knowledge of the evolving risks associated with climate change, as well as a deep commitment to aligning the necessary resources behind the product development process.”
As an example, Zurich cited its development of products to “address the long-term challenges facing continued fossil fuel use and sustainable climate protection.” In conjunction with customers, academic experts and government officials, Zurich came out with two “unique and innovative products, the Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Liability Insurance and the Geological Sequestration Financial Assurance.” Both address specified perils of CCS-operations, which, the bulletin noted, is a “new technology that aims to capture CO2 emissions before release into the atmosphere, thereby allowing continued use of fossil fuel energy sources.”
Zurich also noted that in order to “effectively play its role as an insurer and help people adapt to and mitigate climate change risks,” it has “been engaged in an effective dialogue with governments and regulators, highlighting the priorities that would enable Zurich and other insurers to effectively contribute in combating climate change risks.”
For more information on Zurich’s Global Climate Initiative go to: http://www.zurich.com/climate.
Source: Zurich Financial Services – www.zurich.com
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