Insurance industry must follow through on net-zero: UN

Selwin Hart, the UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action, made a speech at the tenth anniversary of UNEP’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative. 

In it he says that the world is way off track from limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and preventing the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

Mr. Hart asked the industry to do three things: “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.” 

“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.” 

“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. 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.”

Every indicator on climate is heading in the wrong direction, he says. “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”.

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. At the heart of this crisis is a broken global energy system that is bringing us closer to climate catastrophe. 

Fossil fuels are a dead end – environmentally and economically. The ongoing war in Ukraine and its immediate effects on energy prices is yet another wake-up call. The only sustainable future is a renewable one. 

He also said we must end fossil fuel expansion and accelerate the renewable energy transition: “Time is running out. Assets tied to carbon will be in trouble as markets turn to renewables. Investors exposed to fossil fuels will increasingly face the risk of heavy losses. Governments know it. Central banks know it. Regulators and supervisors know it.”

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