The event, entitled “Maintaining momentum beyond Paris: what next for international & UK climate policy?” brought together business leaders, NGOs and policy makers to discuss how the next steps for the UK after the COP21 global climate agreement.
Beale set out the impact climate change is having on the industry: “Since the 1980s the number of registered weather-related loss events has tripled. Inflation-adjusted insurance losses from these events have increased from an annual average of around $10bn in the 1980s to around $50bn over the past decade.”
She went on to highlight some of the ways the insurance industry is already working in the area of climate change and building resilience, including the example of the eight Lloyd’s syndicates which announced a disaster resilience facility for developing economies with £400m of capacity in November last year.
Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, gave her view of the importance of the Paris agreement but warned that a lot of work would need to be done to achieve the COP21 aim of restricting global temperature increase to below 2C.
In terms of decarbonising energy, Rudd said the UK Government was not turning its back on the green economy but nor would it “pile the pain on consumers”.
“Subsidies for the renewable energy should be temporary, not part of a business plan,” she said before stating her belief that markets would drive down operational costs and stimulate the development of new technology.
Following Rudd’s thoughts, the event’s panel comprising Matthew Knight, director of Strategy at Siemens UK; Sarbjit Nahal, MD climate finance, BAML; Anna Turrell, head of public affairs at Nestle UK; and Inga Beale – set out their views on what next for business.
When asked by chair Martin Wolf, the FT’s economic editor, what the Government could do to help the insurance industry in terms of policy, Beale suggested that the Solvency II rules around capital weightings could be changed to make it easier for insurance companies to invest in infrastructure projects.
The panel then took questions from the floor, and a lively debate ensued, touching on a wide range of topics including fossil fuel subsidies, whether gas cookers would be around in 20 years and the changing transport habits of young Americans.
In conclusion, Wolf said that though Paris was much better than it might have been, agreement shouldn’t be confused with solving the problem. “Everyone’s efforts need to be ratcheted up,” he said.