Geneva Assoc pens IPCC Reactions response

Geneva Assoc pens IPCC Reactions response

Geneva Association secretary general John Fitzpatrick (pictured) has written a letter to Reactions.

The think tank responded to Reactions' contributing editor Garry Booth’s opinion article, “Insurers – say something at least”, about perceived industry quiet in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conclusion that humans are 95% likely responsible for global warming.

Dear Sir,

I do not share Garry Booth’s surprise at the lack of insurers reactions to the IPCC’s report issued last Friday (
Insurers – say something at least, Reactions 01.10.13).

In fact, a huge number of insurance industry participants have been and are already intensely focused on the implications of the changing climate, both through global groups such as The Geneva Association’s Climate Risks and Insurance working group (CR+I) and Climatewise; as well as through individual company actions such as Swiss Re’s founding of Climate Week, Munich Re’s initiation of the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative and the Allianz Climate Solutions initiative (to name but a tiny fraction of the panoply of initiatives underway).

There has been and is already considerable insurance focus on climate risk issues. The IPCC report will have served to confirm the science and actual claims evidence that already spurred industry actions that started decades ago.

But rather than the insurance industry, the real question is whether governments and legislators will take action now in their mitigation and adaptation strategies and efforts as a result of a clear and unambiguous report by the IPCC.

If they do that, they will see that insurers have long recognised climate change risks and offer a valuable partner for governments in effective mitigation and adaptation efforts. The insurance industry is a business focused on the understanding and measurement of risk. Its expertise on pre-event disaster risk reduction can be harnessed better by governments today. Also of significance is the important role insurers play in sending price signals on the costs of risks. This will be vital in raising awareness of populations and changing behaviour that serves to reduce climate change risks. Above all, it is an impact absorption mechanism that individuals, institutions, economies and society will need as natural catastrophes become more frequent and governments pay out the inevitable sums of money to recover from damage after more severe events.

Perhaps the real headline should be, “Governments – act now, in your self interest!”

Yours sincerely,
John H. Fitzpatrick,
Secretary General, The Geneva Association

Garry Booth’s opinion piece was published online this week and also appears in print in the October issue of Reactions, under the headline “Time to say something”.

Reactions will publish the Geneva Association’s response in the forthcoming November issue of the magazine, as well as welcoming additional responses.

“When a body like the IPCC concludes that with 95% certainty mankind is causing climate change we would be foolish not to listen. And yet we are still not listening closely enough,” said Mark Way heading reinsurer Swiss Re’s sustainability work in the Americas, speaking in response to the IPCC conclusions.

“The transition to a low carbon economy and a more climate-resilient society cannot be thought of as options, they are necessities. Swiss Re is committed to playing its role in tackling climate change, and we have just reinforced this by announcing we will join an initiative that pledges companies to source 100% of their energy needs from renewable sources by 2020,” added Way. 

Letters to the editor are encouraged via email to Michael Loney

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