Global insurers must use their expertise as professional risk managers to champion a fair and green economic response to the coronavirus crisis, a group of NGOs has urged.
In a letter to insurance associations released today, 25 NGOs from 11 countries call on insurers to speak out in support of recovery programmes that align with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
It highlights how insurers ranked a global pandemic as the world's greatest threat seven years ago, but failed to do enough to ensure governments prepared effectively.
The NGOs warn the industry not to make the same mistake again, and to recognise climate change as the greatest danger facing the world.
The call was welcomed by the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, whose 22 members include insurers Aviva, AXA, Generali, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich.
“Tomorrow’s recovery plans can and must lay the foundations for an irreversible shift to a resilient, net-zero and inclusive economy,” said Günther Thallinger, Allianz chief investment officer and Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance chair.
“The alliance stands ready to work with governments, international agencies and other stakeholders to realise this goal.”
The letter calls on the International Insurance Society, Insurance Europe, the American Risk and Insurance Association, and the Geneva Association to respond with a public statement by May 18.
Since 2017, 19 insurers have ended or restricted insurance for coal projects and some have gone further, with restrictions on tar sands and Arctic oil, according to the Unfriend Coal campaign.
Yet none have committed to only insure projects which are consistent with a 1.5°C world and several major insurers, including AIG, Lloyd’s and Tokio Marine, have taken no steps to restrict cover for fossil fuels.
Peter Bosshard, coordinator of the Unfriend Coal campaign, said: “The role of insurers is to identify and manage risks for society.
“Seven years ago they recognised the threat of a global pandemic, but failed to ensure the world was prepared and simply excluded pandemic risks from their policies.
“Insurers have a duty to speak out loud and clear for strong climate action and set an example by aligning their businesses with international climate targets.”
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