At the beginning of next month, the United Nations will continue its custom of convening nearly every country for a global climate change summit.
This year’s Conference of Parties – the UN’s 26th, and thus known as COP26 – gets underway in Glasgow, Scotland, on 1 November, and is where world leaders will strive to tackle the uniquely urgent challenges in sustainability today.
Many of you will have read, or be aware of, the report recently published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, showing unprecedented change in world climate and emphasising the need for immediate action. As I noted in my presidential address, I believe this to be the defining topic of our lifetimes: the risks posed by the impacts of climate change aren’t limited to the ones we’ve already begun to witness, such as severe weather, mass migration and civil unrest. They also influence consumer demand, business models, the financial system, the economy and regulation – all of which directly affect actuaries and those who benefit from our work. We don’t yet know how to reliably calculate the cost of these impacts: what is the monetary value of a fundamental change in the way our world operates?
It’s not a question we can answer alone. As I think about the IFoA’s purpose – ‘to be the voice of actuaries, and to support, develop and be the voice of our members’ – I know that actuaries will continue to play a vital part in solving society’s biggest challenges. We will need to develop new skills, new ways of using our expertise, and new collaborations with other experts to help provide the new paradigms and methodologies that will be needed to bring us into a net-zero world. And contributions from individual actuaries, from us all, will make a real difference as the world addresses this enormous challenge. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and all our steps count.
Louise Pryor is the president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries