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Climate-neutral investment portfolios by 2050 – insurers commit to sustainability goals

The Presidential Board of the German Insurance Association (GDV) has adopted a position paper whereby the insurance industry commits to the sustainable transformation of business and society. It contains some far-reaching decisions.

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Sustainability and economic success are two sides of the same coin.

The German insurance industry with investments of EUR 1,700 billion will invest their clients’ money in a climate-neutral way by 2050 at the latest. Insurers’ office buildings and infrastructure are to be CO2-neutral by 2025. “The insurance sector has set itself ambitious goals through this decision by the Presidential Board of GDV”, said GDV Chairman of the Management Board Jörg Asmussen. “Insurers and insurance policies are going to be greener.”

In the long term, insurers no longer want to underwrite commercial or industrial risks that hinder the transformation process towards a sustainable and climate-neutral economy. That is how the sector contributes to the sustainable transformation of business and society. Sustainability will also play a bigger role in insurance policies themselves going forward. “Insurance will be perceptibly more sustainable by as early as 2025”, said Asmussen.

"Insurance will be perceptibly more sustainable by as early as 2025"
Jörg Asmussen, CEO GDV

The comprehensive approach is based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sees climate change as the most pressing challenge. “Climate change is in full swing, we can already see its effects. We are leveraging our know-how and economic strength to contain those adverse effects and make them manageable”, he said. “The GDV Presidential Board’s adoption of this sustainability positioning is an initial and, at the same time, decisive step. We are going well above and beyond the strict legal requirements”.

The Paris Agreement is to keep global warming well below two degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. Insurers support this goal. As one of the biggest institutional investor groups, they want to make a tangible contribution to transforming the economy. “We are predestined partners for the energy transition and investment in sustainable infrastructure. We will shape and promote the debate on sustainable investment”, said Asmussen.

Part of the solution to manage climate change

The insurance industry already has solutions to adress climate change, such as insuring plants that produce renewable energies or covering natural hazards like heavy rain or floods.

“A relatively benign 2020 for natural disaster claims in Germany cannot detract from the fact that climate change is one of the key influencing factors for the future development of the insurance sector”, said Asmussen. “This applies across the lines from a flooded cellar to excess mortality in future heatwaves. That’s why we will continue to assign the highest priority to climate change adjustment, prevention and sustainability.”

Insurers are also aiming to incorporate more environmental and social criteria plus aspects of good corporate governance – which has become known as ESG in the financial sector – in their underwriting guidelines by 2025. And Insurers are supporting their commercial and industrial clients in becoming more sustainable.

Sustainability criteria for claims management by 2025

The availability of sustainable insurance products will grow. That includes products conducive to sharing concepts or that favour repairing defective products instead of exchanging them. By 2025, companies will have integrated such sustainability criteria more within their claims management. Many insurers are already investing in preventive measures today. The product offering for retirement provision based on sustainable investments will also be expanded.

Climate-neutral business processes by 2025 and more diversity in recruitment

Insurers themselves are becoming greener, more sustainable and increasingly diverse. They have committed to be climate-neutral in their own business operations by 2025 (e.g., office buildings and infrastructure), and to increase the share of women, especially in management positions. Management bodies must reflect the same diversity that make up their companies and clients. Sustainability will become an integral part of corporate governance structures.

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