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Swiss Re will begin tightening its treaty (re)insurance underwriting policy for thermal coal risks from 2023 and exit all exposures in OECD countries by 2030 and the rest of the world by 2040.

New thermal coal underwriting thresholds will be applied across Swiss Re’s property, engineering, casually, credit and surety, and marine cargo lines of business from 2023. They will be gradually reduced until the risks are completely phased out.

Last year, Swiss Re said it would stop underwriting the world’s 10% most carbon-intensive oil and gas companies by 2023.

Updating its investment policy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, Swiss Re has now said it will reduce the carbon intensity of its corporate bond and equity portfolio by 35% by 2025. It has already reduced the portfolio by 30 percent between 2015 and 2018. It plans to exit all coal-based assets in the portfolio by 2030.

At the same time, the reinsurer has set a target to increase investments in renewable and social infrastructure by $750m and expand green, social and sustainability bond exposure to $4bn by the end of 2024, from $2.6bn at the end of last year.

Christian Mumenthaler, Swiss Re group CEO, said: “Climate change remains the biggest challenge we face as a society. The stakes are high and require immediate attention. Signing up to net-zero emissions by 2050 and setting concrete climate targets are important first steps. What needs to follow now is action. We are moving ahead in all areas of our business to accelerate the transition towards net zero.”

As an additional measure, Swiss Re said it will work with companies in its equity portfolio to reduce their carbon emissions and develop their own corporate climate strategies.

Swiss Re’s group chief investment officer Guido Fürer said: “We believe that by engaging with the real economy and supporting the companies we invest in to develop a climate strategy and to manage related risks, we will improve our risk-adjusted returns, while also propelling the transition to a net-zero emissions economy.”

Swiss Re said its targets for underwriting and investment have been set against a protocol adopted by the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, which it joined as a founding member. It will report on the target progress each year.

The group has already committed to net-zero emissions from its own operations by 2030. It has introduced a carbon levy on direct and indirect emissions from its operations starting at $100 per tonne of CO2 from 2021, and doubling to $200 per tonne by 2030.

Environmental campaign group Insure Our Future said Swiss Re’s new underwriting targets are a “breakthrough” in reinsurance, as they extends existing initiatives to reduce coal underwriting in direct and facultative reinsurance to treaty business. The campaign called on other reinsurers to do the same.

“Treaty business is a very large portion of the reinsurance trade and it has been a major loophole in coal underwriting that needs to be addressed. Swiss Re has set a benchmark that the rest of the industry needs to follow, now,” said Lindsay Keenan, European coordinator for Insure Our Future.

“Now that Swiss Re has responded with an ambitious and clear commitment, we call on Munich Re, Hannover Re, SCOR, Berkshire Hathaway, Lloyd’s of London, Mapfre and Vienna Insurance Group to quickly follow suit,” he added.

By Favour Nnabugwu

AM Best  has become a signatory of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) being the first Credit Rating Agencies, CRA to be.

AM Best believes the insurance industry plays an important role in supporting sustainable economic and social development.

In addition, management of environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts will strengthen the insurance industry’s contribution to building a resilient, inclusive and sustainable society. AM Best’s PSI membership is a significant step in this direction.

Endorsed by the U.N. Secretary-General, the Principles have led to the largest collaborative initiative between the U.N. and the insurance industry — the PSI Initiative. Over 140 organizations worldwide have adopted the four Principles for Sustainable Insurance, including insurers representing more than 25percent of world insurance premium volume and USD 14 trillion in assets under management.

The Principles are part of the insurance industry criteria of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and FTSE4Good.

“AM Best and its major affiliates are pleased to become a signatory to the U.N.’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance. The Principles ‘serve as a global framework for the insurance industry to address environmental, social and governance risk and opportunities,’” said Arthur Snyder III, Chairman, President & CEO of AM Best Company.

“This fits both our focus on insurance and our continued perspective that ESG elements play an important role in the financial strength of an insurance company.

We’ve long captured environmental and governance issues in our ratings opinions through catastrophe stress tests, A&E tests and ERM. ESG is a repackaging of these. Through the PSI, we are making a further commitment of disclosure and transparency to forward an ESG agenda,” said Matthew C. Mosher, President & CEO of AM Best Rating Services.

“We are delighted that the world’s first credit rating agency is also the first credit rating agency to sign the UN’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI),” said Butch Bacani, who leads the PSI at the UN Environment Programme.

“As the largest credit rating agency specializing in the insurance industry, this is a clear and strong signal from AM Best that sustainability matters in the insurance business, that sustainability counts. In the final analysis, the bottom line is sustainability.”

The new Director General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet., Prof Mansur Bako Matazu has assumed office yesterday

Professor Matazu takes over from Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi following an approval by President Muhammadu Buhari for the reorganization of the Aviation Agencies in line with the implementation of his administration’s Aviation Development Roadmap.

Speaking at the handover ceremony at NiMet headquarters, Abuja, Prof. Matazu acknowledged the great feat achieved by his predecessor, whom he served as Technical Assistant.

He added that Professor Mashi has achieved a lot for the Agency and taken it to a great height to become the best Meteorological Agency in the whole of Africa.  Matazu pledged to build on this success.

He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve in this capacity and promised to run an all-inclusive administration. He noted that the former DG/CEO has always been his mentor.

In his valedictory speech earlier, the outgoing Director General/CEO, Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi gave a report of his stewardship and expressed confidence in the capability of the new Director General to build on the achievement he recorded and propel NiMet to greater heights.

He appreciated every staff for the support given and wished Professor Matazu a successful and eventful tenure. He appealed to all staff to extend same cooperation he enjoyed to the new Director General.

Professor Matazu holds a PhD in Applied Meteorology from the Federal University of Technology Minna and a post-doctorate degree at Erasmus University, Netherlands. He lectured at Federal University of Technology Minna as well as Federal University Dutsinma, Katsina state before joining NiMet in 2016.

He has published Books, Chapters and Peer review articles in both national and international Journals.

Professor Matazu is a member of Nigerian Environmental Society, African Forestry Forum, Nigerian Meteorological Society, the Climate Change Network, Nigeria and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Nigeria (REEN).

Until his appointment, Professor Mansur Bako Matazu was the General Manager, Research as well as the Technical Assistant to the outgoing Director General.