Talking to brokers, government and academia about sustainability, tackling emissions and increasing digital activity across their businesses are just some of the ways insurers are preparing for a net zero future.
Earlier this month chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to require large UK firms and financial institutions to show how they will hit climate change targets.
By 2023, firms will need to set out detailed public plans for how they will move to a low-carbon future – in line with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.
Last month, Bupa announced plans to go net zero by 2040 and Aviva group CEO Amanda Blanc touched on the issue in the group’s third quarter trading update.
Blanc welcomed government’s plans, adding they would ensure every firm makes a net zero commitment and are doing so in a “robust and consistent” way.
And Zurich, a founder member of the net zero alliance, revealed it has committed to being net zero by 2050.
“Zurich Group has been carbon neutral since 2014, and was the first insurer to sign the UN business pledge to implement science-based targets to limit global temperature and achieve a 1.5 degree future,” a spokesperson for the insurer told Health & Protection.
“We are doing this by addressing emissions associated with our operations and supply chain, our investments and working with our customers on reducing their emissions and environmental footprint.”
Engaging with brokers and advisers
Touching on the brokers and advisers Zurich deals with, the insurer said it provides them with a variety of content and thought leadership to help engage and inform customers about sustainability.
“Zurich has held a series of regional roundtables with brokers, chaired by Craig Tracey MP of the insurance and financial services all party parliamentary group in Parliament.
“These meetings helped us understand how important Zurich’s sustainability credentials are to brokers, advisers, and our customers.”
Zurich acknowledged that the transition to a net zero carbon economy is going to require some “big changes”, and is why it has commissioned an academic report by the University of the West of England – Journey to Net Zero.
“This report investigates the particular challenges and opportunities that 17 different sectors in the UK have in reaching net zero by the mid-Century, highlighting the role that government can play in supporting certain industrial sectors that will find it particularly difficult to decarbonise their operations,” the insurer continued.
“The sustainability initiatives that we enact now will have impacts and consequences on future generations. Young people will inherit the environment that has been left for them, but many of them feel that their voices are not being heard.
“That is why Zurich recently organised our second Youth Against Carbon Conference (YACCon21), featuring five eco-influencers discussing their hopes and ideas for a greener and brighter future for the planet.”
Commenting on its plans to go net zero, Deepak Jobanputra, chief sustainability officer at Vitality said the firm was committed to playing its role in building a “healthier and more sustainable world”.
He added the firm had made a number of pledges to support this, including carbon neutrality by 2025 and net zero by 2050, or earlier.
“To achieve these targets, we have set about embedding sustainability across our business,” Jobanputra told Health & Protection.
“From a move towards renewable energy and actively seeking out new technology to reduce our own emissions, right through to embedding greener aspects within our products and services.
“Earlier this year, we launched VitalityCar, that from its very inception had greener aspects built within it, alongside launching a range of environmental, social and governance friendly funds with VitalityInvest.”
But Jobanputra described these actions as “just the start”, adding Vitality has plans to introduce greener and more sustainable aspects across all products, services and in the way it conducts business.
“We are also supported by our parent company Discovery, which has signed up to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and we have contributed to the group’s submission to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and reporting towards the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD),” he added.
Carbon creation audit
Legal & General revealed it has committed to achieving net zero across its operational footprint including occupied offices and business travel by 2030.
“We are currently working on a full audit of our carbon creating activity and through that we will then be able to create strategies to reduce the amount of carbon created,” an L&G spokesperson told Health & Protection.
“We’ve already started that journey; through increased digital activity such as moving to paperless applications wherever possible for customers and intermediary partners, increasing online facilitation of partner-facing meetings to reduce travel and accommodation requirements and reducing the need for in-person medical assessments.
“There is still more to be done and we will continue to work with intermediaries to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.”