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Climate change: Zurich's position

At Zurich, being a responsible and sustainable company is at the foundation of our business. We help our customers and communities become more resilient to natural disasters and extreme weather; we make a difference through our responsible investment approach; and we are swiftly reducing our own carbon footprint. We are working closely with communities and policy-makers to place more emphasis on risk reduction, preparedness and resilience rather than purely focusing on recovery and rebuilding. We are also sharing with our customers the best practices and other risk-related insights developed during our 140-year history.

Using our core insurance skills to respond to some of the most significant long-term societal and environmental trends, we identified climate change as perhaps the most complex risk facing society today. It is inter-generational, it is international and it is interdependent. Representing the consensus of the international scientific community, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds strong evidence that climate change is occurring, that it is influenced by human action, and that it is leading to changes in extreme weather and climate events.

Our own analysis suggests that the likelihood of missing the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 2ºC or below is higher than achieving it. That is why we are accelerating action to reduce climate risks by driving changes in how companies and people behave and support those most impacted. For us, it is simply the right thing to do.

We will:

  1. Work with clients as well as public and private partners to enhance resilience and advocate for solutions to prevent, or minimize, damage and harm from weather and climate-related perils for our customers and communities.
  2. Develop insurance and risk management solutions for the new technologies, business models and approaches that will be required to achieve this unprecedented transition to a low-carbon economy.
  3. Integrate assessments of both physical and transition risks into our investment strategies and contribute to avoiding 5 million tons of CO2 emissions annually through our dedicated impact investments.
  4. Minimize the environmental impact of our own operations.
  5. Disengage and divest from those whose activities are predominantly focused on thermal coal, oil sands and oil shale if these companies have no plan to realign their business over time towards a low-carbon future. See our detailed position here
  6. Play an active role in developing science-based targets for the insurance industry by joining the Business Ambition for 1.5°C. Zurich recognizes the role the science-based targets plays in highlighting the decarbonization pathways necessary to meet the Paris Agreement per sector and translating these into useful tools for companies. Currently, in the insurance sector, science-based targets do not exist for either insurance or investment portfolios. As part of the Business Ambition for 1.5°C, we have committed to play an active role in changing that and to set our own targets.
  7. Publicly advocate for policies that encourage the private sector to fully leverage capabilities and resources in support of the transition to a global low-carbon economy, including:
    • A global price on carbon, established at a level sufficiently high over time to incentivize action aligned with below-2ºC warming.
    • A clear roadmap for the progressive phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.
    • Credible policy roadmaps for internationally integrated energy policies, systems, markets and electricity grids capable of handling large scale use of renewable energies.
    • Policies in support of both public and private research and development of critical technologies such as energy storage, electric mobility, renewable power and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
    • Integrating key aspects of climate change, alongside other environmental, social and governance issues, in public and private education and curricula.
    • Enhanced transparency by mandating better disclosure of climate risks, alongside other environmental, social and governance issues.
  8. Adopt the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task force on Climate Change-related Financial Disclosure (FSB-TCFD) and report on progress made in implementing the above commitments.

We acknowledge that our actions must be compatible with Zurich’s broader strategic and financial objectives and reflect the real-world operating environment driven by client demand and bound by public policy. We will continue working with customers to better manage climate risks; providing coverage for new technologies and infrastructure, such as electric vehicles, renewable energy or carbon capture and storage; investing in companies and assets that support the transition to a low-carbon economy; and – if and when possible – putting a price on climate risks when making investment or underwriting decisions.

We confront the risks posed by climate change through our insurance business.

Read more about our actions.

Zurich’s commitment to help society understand and protect itself from climate risks

Zurich has signed-up to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C Pledge aimed at limiting average global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2030.

The Paris Pledge for Action

Zurich has joined the Paris Pledge for action.

Task force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

Zurich has expressed its support for the TCFD.

2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change

Zurich is a signatory to the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change.

Zurich supports insurers' Climate Risk Statement

Zurich's commitment with other insurers to the Climate Risk Statement of the Geneva Association.

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