Insurance and Climate Change column

Survey: Broad Support for Renewables, Gap in Climate Change Awareness

By | June 30, 2022
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There is overwhelming public support across the globe for using renewable energy, according to a new survey out from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

The international survey was published on Wednesday. It was conducted in partnership with Data for Good at Meta and it probed public climate change knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences, and behavior among Facebook users. The survey collected responses from 108,946 Facebook users in 192 countries and territories.

The survey found high levels of climate change awareness among respondents in developed countries, while more than half of respondents from multiple countries in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Central America, the Middle East, and island states knew little about climate change.

There was also a gap in the perception that climate change is caused by human activity. Respondents in Spain (65%) and Sweden (61%) were the most likely to think that climate change is mostly caused by human activities. Respondents in Indonesia (18%) and Yemen (21%) were the least likely to think that climate change is mostly caused by human activities.

High numbers of respondents from numerous countries think switching to green energies will be more of a benefit to the global economy than a harm.

More than three-quarters of respondents in Malawi, Brazil, and Angola were the most likely to think action to reduce climate change will improve economic growth and provide new jobs, or say it won’t affect the economy and jobs. Respondents in Czechia (47%) and Japan (50%) were the least likely to think so.

Nearly nine-in-10 respondents in the countries of Hungary, Portugal, and Spain were the most likely to say that their country or territory should either use “much more” or “somewhat more” renewable energy, while respondents in Indonesia (48%) and Tanzania (53%) were the least likely.

More than seven-in-10 respondents in the countries of Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Sweden were the most likely to say that their country or territory should use either “much less” or “somewhat less” fossil fuels, while respondents in Cambodia (12%) and Mozambique (16%) were the least likely.

Blue Carbon

California should consider “blue carbon” to help in the battle to reduce global emissions.

That suggestion comes in a new op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News. The piece argues that “no other ecosystem in the state can, on an acre-for-acre basis, soak up more carbon than coastal wetlands and seagrass beds,” and it can do so more than 10 times faster than forests.

These “blue carbon ecosystems” sequester organic matter in their sediments, building centuries-old carbon stockpiles.

“This carbon trapping efficiency, and the fact that California has already lost most of its tidal wetlands, should put the remaining blue carbon ecosystems first among environments to enlist in the fight against climate change,” the piece states.

The op-ed concerns the California Air Resources Board’s draft 2022 scoping plan, which calls out actions and investments the state can make to reach carbon neutrality by 2045. The plan does not incorporate coastal wetlands and seagrass beds, which are the state’s “most efficient carbon sinks,” the authors write.

“The scoping plan indicates a lack of blue carbon data and insufficient guidelines on incorporating them into carbon inventories,” they write. “While data gaps should be filled, especially in the smaller, urbanized estuaries of Southern California, several extensive datasets of California blue carbon already exist, and recent mapping efforts provide good data on the coverage of these habitats.”

Flood Resilience

Addressing socioeconomic inequality is a key to building flood resilience, according to Swenja Surminski, head of adaptation research at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Surminski fielded questions from Marsh McLennan’s BRINK content platform in a Q&A that was published on Insurance Journal this week.

“Growing flood risk underpins the urgency of climate action,” she told BRINK. “Since 1980, floods have caused over 250,000 casualties and led to economic damage exceeding $1 trillion, accounting for 40% of total natural catastrophe losses. Tackling climate change is a defining challenge for the next decade and beyond.”

According to Surminski, the impacts of climate change are unevenly distributed, while flooding “disproportionately affects the most vulnerable,” making inequalities and poverty worse as poorer communities struggle to cope with climate shocks and recover from extreme weather events.

“People in these communities are less likely to be protected by insurance, and they are more likely to lose their livelihood in the wake of a disaster,” she said. “Early findings from one of our studies in Indonesia, for example, indicate that job losses after a flood event tend to affect mostly low-skilled workers and particularly female employees.

Without action to address cause and effects of climate change, flooding will create challenges for those households and businesses that are already vulnerable, and banks and insurers may pass on rising costs to customers, making access to finance impossible for some, she added.

Travelers

The Travelers Companies Inc. published its 2021 Sustainability Report, outlining the company’s strategy for creating shareholder value and its ongoing environmental, social and governance initiatives.

The report, posted on its sustainability website, provides a review of the 16 topics the company has identified as its “key drivers of sustained value,” including business strategy and competitive advantages, capital & risk management, climate strategy, community, customer experience, cybersecurity, disaster preparedness and response, diversity and inclusion, eco-efficient operations, ethics and values, and human capital management,.

Highlights from the company’s 2021 report include:

  • Climate Strategy. Over the past three years, the company’s Global Renewable Energy Practice grew at a compound annual rate of 30%.
  • Eco-Efficient Operations. Over the past decade, the company reduced its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 60%, and in 2021, Travelers announced its commitment to become carbon neutral across its owned operations by 2030.
  • Investment Management. Many of the company’s investments enable environmental and social improvements, including water and sewer projects, and education. Travelers also owns nearly $2.4 billion in fixed income securities classified as “green bonds.”

The company says its sustainability reporting is guided by sustainability disclosure frameworks, as well as engagements with stakeholders inside and outside the company.

Travelers has published reports responsive to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board standards for the insurance industry and the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

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