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Swiss Re CEO urges more climate action from businesses

20th January 2020 - Author: Matt Sheehan

Swiss Re CEO Christian Mumenthaler has called on private businesses across the financial sector to come together to create a more viable action plan to address the challenge of climate change.

christian-mumenthalerHe argued that reducing the effects of climate change is a common goal that should be supported across the global business community, and one that should not be trusted to governments alone.

For example, he noted that even landmark commitments such as the Paris climate agreement has achieved little since its adoption four years ago, while the recent UN climate summit again ended in a stalemate.

“Politicians are not the sole makers of change; businesses have the power of capital to make significant steps in addressing the climate crisis,” Mumenthaler said.

“Many companies are already adopting more sustainable practices, but it is currently not the concerted effort it needs to be.”

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Continuing, Mumenthaler urged businesses to form “alliances across all industries” and channel their collective intellectual power to develop new technologies to address climate issues.

Increasingly, companies are beginning to realise that their very survival will depend on finding more actionable solutions to the climate crisis, and growing pressure from employees and shareholders is further pushing businesses to change.

Mumenthaler compared the ambition of reaching a net-zero carbon world to putting human beings on Mars, and maintained that feasible solutions would require businesses to focus on more than just carbon pricing, which has dominated the conversation thus far.

“What our climate goals and going to Mars have in common is the need for a viable action plan, one that is adaptable, agile and backed by a multi-stakeholder effort,” he contended.

“For every sector and every carbon-emitting source, we need to assess what technologies are available to bring down emissions, what gaps need addressing and how to channel investments in the most impactful way.”

Mumenthaler believes that the capitalist system will eventually persuade even the biggest sceptics of the necessity of change, but he warned that collaborative action would require steadfastness and perseverance.

“I’m optimistic we can make the shift, but we need to act now before it is too late,” he concluded. “Together we have the knowledge, technology and capabilities to develop a workable plan to fight the climate crisis and make sure that humanity does not need to look for salvation on Mars.”

Swiss Re is among the group of companies that have committed to transitioning their investment portfolios to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and was among the top five brands to recieve praise from NGOs in 2018 due to its climate actions.

Acording to a recent sigma report by Swiss Re, rising global temperatures due to climate change have heightened the risk of costly events such as wildfire and drought and significantly impacted the level of re/insurance industry losses in recent years.

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