Insurance and Climate Change column

Survey Shows More Americans Believe There is ‘Solid Evidence’ of Global Warming

By | July 12, 2018

There’s a surefire way to get more people to believe in global warming.

Just crank up the heat.

A larger percentage of Americans say there is “solid evidence” of global warming than at any time since 2008, when the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College began its series of National Surveys on Energy and the Environment.

Over the course of the last 10 years the institutions have undertaken 19 surveys in which Americans have been asked if they believe there is solid evidence of global warming.

The latest survey came as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced that May was the warmest in the continental U.S. since records began to be kept in 1895. The telephone survey of 751 adults was conducted between April 29 and May 25.

The survey shows that 73 percent believe there is solid evidence of global warming, while 60 percent of Americans now think that global warming is happening and that humans are at least partially responsible for rising temperatures.

A survey from the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College shows that 73 percent of Americans believe there is solid evidence of global warming, while 60 percent now think that global warming is happening and that humans are at least partially responsible for rising temperatures.

The divide between Democrats, Republicans and independents on global warming has been significant over the past decade of the surveys, while the most recent findings indicate this divide is large and modestly widening.

Ninety percent of Democrats believe there is solid evidence of global warming while the 50 percent of Republicans do. The 40 percent difference matches the previous record divide that was measured in the spring of 2012, according to those conducting the survey.

Almost eight-in-10 Democrats believe that global warming is happening and that humans are at least partially responsible compared with only 35 percent of Republicans, who it seems, are going backward recently on their feelings about who what is to blame for climate change. A decade ago 39 percent of Republicans maintained that position.

Climate Action

Investor signatories to Climate Action 100+ have scaled up engagement with “systemically important greenhouse gas emitters,” while adding 61 companies that are considered to have significant opportunities to drive the clean energy transition and help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Climate Action 100+, launched at the end of 2017, is currently backed by 289 investors with nearly $30 trillion in assets under management across 29 countries.

Climate Action 100+ is a five-year initiative led by investors to engage “systemically important greenhouse gas emitters” and other companies across the global economy that have significant opportunities to drive the clean energy transition and help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Investor representatives from AustralianSuper, California Public Employees’ Retirement System, HSBC Global Asset Management, Ircantec and Manulife Asset Management have helped to lead the design and development of Climate Action 100+. The initiative is coordinated by five partner organizations: Asia Investor Group on Climate Change; Ceres; Investor Group on Climate Change; Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change; and Principles for Responsible Investment.

Companies just added to the group’s list include American Airlines, Daimler Ag, Delta Air Lines Inc., Kinder Morgan Inc., Unilever Plc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

More investors and pension funds are coming together to engage with those systemically important greenhouse gas emitters that are producing 85 percent of carbon emissions on the topic of climate change, according to said Anne Simpson, investment director of sustainability at CalPERS, which has over $349 billion in assets under management.

“The growth of Climate Action 100+ among the global investment community in the last six months is more than we ever expected,” Simpson said in a statement.

Investor signatories are calling on companies to improve governance on climate change, curb emissions and strengthen climate-related financial disclosures.

Climate Action 100+ plans to produce an annual benchmarking report to evaluate corporate progress towards the goals of the initiative.

Swiss Re

Swiss Re said this month it will not provide reinsurance to businesses with more than 30 percent thermal coal exposure.

Swiss Re started the implementation of its thermal coal policy, which was originally announced in June 2017. Under the coal policy, Swiss Re will not provide reinsurance to businesses with more than 30 percent exposure to thermal coal across all lines of business.

It is a further step in refining Swiss Re’s approach to managing carbon-related sustainability risks and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy, the company said.

The decision to develop a thermal coal policy was based on Swiss Re’s commitment to the Paris Pledge for Action in 2015, when the carrier committed to the effort to limit global warming to 1.5°C – 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

“The implementation of the coal policy is a major step forward in ensuring that our business activities are aligned with the Paris Agreement and related national efforts,” Edi Schmid, Swiss Re’s group chief underwriting officer, said in a statement. “We are working with our clients to find the best solutions that enable them to adapt to a low-carbon economy.”

The group-wide thermal coal policy is part of Swiss Re’s sustainability risk framework, which the company uses for all underwriting and investment activities as to minimize sustainability risks.

The thermal coal policy applies to both existing and new thermal coal mines and power plants, and is implemented across all lines of business and Swiss Re’s global scope of operations.

The 30 percent threshold applied is in line with the thresholds on the investment side. To contribute to a low carbon environment and mitigate the risk of stranded assets, Swiss Re in 2016 stopped investing in companies that generate 30 percent or more of their revenues from thermal coal mining or that use at least 30 percent thermal coal for power generation, and Swiss Re divested from existing holdings.

LA Times

“The record-breaking heat that baked Southern California and prompted mass power outages last weekend was just a taste of what is to come.”

So says the L.A. Times editorial board.

The board in an editorial today writes that climate change is expected to produce more frequent and more severe heat waves in coming years, stressing electrical grids and challenge utilities to keep up with the power demand.

“The demand for electricity Friday, Saturday and Sunday overwhelmed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s aged system, prompting power outages that affected more than 80,000 customers,” the Times writes. “The unluckiest people went 48 hours without electricity; they and many others had to evacuate their homes in search of air conditioning elsewhere.”

The editorial says things will get worse, citing a 2015 UCLA study that shows that number of days over 95 degrees could triple or quadruple by 2050.

While the Department of Water and Power launched an ambitious plan to replace old electrical distribution equipment and city officials hiked rates to boost modernization efforts, it could take decades for the system to catch up with the sizzling heat waves that have plagued Southern California in the last few years, according to the editorial.

The editorial calls for finding ways to reduce energy demand, for homes and businesses to install solar panels and to make older buildings more energy efficient.

“Preparing for a hotter future won’t be cheap or easy,” the editorial states. “But the past weekend provided a worrisome glimpse into what will happen in Los Angeles if we don’t.”

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