New FoE report : French insurances : guaranteed climate change?
Friends of the Earth France today publish the report "French insurances : guaranteed climate change?" (1), the fist study on the 15 most important French insurance companies (2), which reveals that none of them has a complete climate policy. The asset management policies are the worst ones dealing with climate and energy issues. Asset management of French insurers generates induced emissions of 490 million tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of 90% of all French emissions. Public policies are also totally inadequate : none link climate, energy and asset management. Do climate-killer investments have a bright future?
The report "French insurances : guaranteed climate change?" is the result of eight months of research. It analyses the climate policies of the 15 main French insurance companies, on the basis of 10 criteria spanning in 3 main topics : global climate policy, insurance products and asset management.
The results of the report are crystal clear : no French insurer has a complete climate policy to this day. Sebastien Godinot, campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth France, underlines that : "The main problem is in asset management. French insurers manage the sum of 1500 billion euros (equivalent to 80% of French GDP). With explicit environmental and social criteria, this could be a useful leverage given the current economic crisis, to quickly direct the economy to low energy and natural resources models, creating local jobs. But the insurance companies asset management business model barely takes into account the climate : no targets, no shareholder activism, no reduction or exclusion policy of investments in the most polluting companies or of the false solutions (biofuels, nuclear, CCS...)".
He continues : "The emissions induced by the assets managed represent the equivalent to 90% of the total French emissions in 2006. Any insurer has the objective of reducing this huge impact, while the optimisation of investment portfolios can easily reduce their carbon intensity by 25%. As long as commitments do not translate in operational and verifiable objectives, it's only verbiage. The concrete work starts with the calculation of induced emissions, using the innovative methodology developed by Caisse d'Epargne, Centre Info and Utopies."
Yann Louvel, Private Finance campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, adds : "The government has its share of the responsibility : as long as investors do what they want regarding the climate and invest huge amounts without calculating the emissions they generate, as is the case today, the reduction of emissions to one quarter of present levels decided by the government by 2050 is non sense. We ask the French government and the European Union to work on objectives that the private financial sector will have to respect dealing with climate and energy in their financial activities, particularly in asset management. Putting pressure only on industry is simplistic and inefficient in an economy overcentered on financial activities".
The study of Friends of the Earth France puts forward the best French and international practices and formulates four key recommendations to insurers :
- calculate their induced emissions and set reduction objectives ;
- develop an asset management policy integrating climate and energy explicit criteria ;
- develop more ambitious car and housing insurances : some interesting products already exist, but it's necessary to go even further ;
- put in place a transversal policy on climate. Current training on climate issues is extremely insufficient.
(1) "French insurances : guaranteed climate change?", Friends of the Earth France, December 2008
(2) The 15 insurances studied are : AXA, Generali, Aviva, CNP Assurances, Crédit Agricole-LCL, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, AGF, Groupama-GAN, Crédit Mutuel-CIC, Natixis, La Mondiale, MMA, MACIF, MAIF.