top of page

Climate change: UN senior official spells out what insurers can do to help halve emissions by 2030

UN assistant secretary-general for climate action, Mr Selwin Hart, has suggested what the insurance sector can do to cut emissions by half by 2030.

Speaking at an event held on 19-21 June to mark the 10th anniversary of UNEP’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI), he told insurers, "I have three concrete asks of you:

First, follow through on your net-zero pledges with ambitious and credible actions now and during the course of this make-it or break-it decade. 2050 and 2030 are too far into the future. We need decisive action and interim net-zero targets by 2025. And deliver strong and credible transition plans to link your long-term pledges with immediate action.

"Second, what you invest in and where you invest matters. Stop investing in the coal industry, and stop underwriting new fossil fuel projects that contribute to the climate emergency. As of November 2021, institutional investors still held over $1.2tn in the coal industry. And close to 500 commercial banks channeled $1.2tn to coal mining, trading, transport, conversion of coal to liquids, coal-fired power stations, and manufacturing of equipment for new coal plants.

"The secretary-general said it best: this madness needs to stop. Shift your investments to renewables and support the expansion of renewables in developing and emerging economies. These countries need access to cheaper and clean energy sources. And tell us how public sources of finance can be better used to leverage the trillions you own and manage. I also urge you to invest in adaptation and resilience building to protect lives and livelihoods.

"Third, you have very powerful voices, wide influence and resources on a scale that can deliver change. Sitting on the sidelines and hedging your bets is no longer a viable option. I urge you to put these assets to work and send the loudest possible message to government decision-makers - both publicly and privately — that they must step up their climate ambition and actions."

Mr Hart said, "Let me be frank. The world is way off track from limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and preventing the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

"Every indicator on climate is heading in the wrong direction. Global emissions are at their highest level in human history and continue to grow. The current national commitments made under the Paris Agreements by governments would result in an increase in global emissions of 14% by 2030, rather than the 45% decline science tell us is required this decade to be on a credible pathway to 1.5."

He added, "The battle to keep 1.5 alive will be won or lost in this decade and with each passing day of inaction and insufficient action, the pulse of 1.5 gets weaker and weaker."

He stressed, "The climate crisis is the greatest test of our age. The science is conclusive, the choices are clear, and the tools we need are all within our reach. Let’s pick up the toolbox and get to work."



bottom of page