Swiss Re

Insuring the earth’s future

It’s easy to see why some companies feel the need to take action against climate change. Food and drinks companies, for example, need to protect commodity crops—without them, they’d have no raw materials to manufacture their products.

For an insurance company like Swiss Re, the motivation is less obvious. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: climate change potentially means more extreme weather, which in turn means more damage for its clients and higher insurance losses.

So Swiss Re decided to lead by example and show the corporate world what’s possible in terms of cutting emissions. As far back as 2007, it committed to using renewable energy to power all its operations. And it recently stepped up its efforts as a founding partner of RE100, a group of companies committed to using 100% renewable power. [1]

In addition to what it can do itself, Swiss Re is supporting the development of clean energy through its offering of innovative insurance solutions, risk reports and other services to their renewable energy clients. [2]

Taking renewable energy seriously

As well as committing to using 100% renewable energy, Swiss Re has also created a minimum standard that sets out what counts as renewable in the first place. So at the company’s Zurich headquarters it only buys electricity certified as ‘Naturemade Star’—a benchmark of high-quality green energy. [3]

Since 2003, Swiss Re has also cut carbon emissions by over 50% per employee even though there’s been more business travel. [4]

“We decided on a 100% renewable power approach because, as a leading provider of reinsurance and insurance, we believe that tackling climate change while meeting the energy needs of a growing and developing world is an urgent matter.”

- Mark Way, Head of Sustainability Americas Hub for Swiss Re

Using the power of big business

Swiss Re wants to make renewable power more widely available, especially in emerging markets. So it supported the development of RE100 to use the bargaining power of big business to boost the renewable energy market.

With 25% of carbon emissions coming from power generation—and businesses using most of that power—big companies are in a strong position to bring about change.

It’s not just that these businesses are using more sustainable energy for themselves. By using it, they’re creating more demand for it, which means power suppliers have an incentive to expand their renewable energy investments. That all helps drive the switch from fossil fuels to a more sustainable energy supply across the globe.

Seeing renewable results

“Becoming CO2-neutral is an ongoing journey which we started in 2003. The process involves three steps: make our operations as energy efficient as possible; source as much energy as possible from renewable sources, and buy high quality certificates to offset unavoidable CO2 emissions.”

- Vincent Eckert, Head of Group Internal Environmental Management at Swiss Re. [5]

Swiss Re cut its energy intensity by 46.5% between 2003 and 2013. [6] It gets around 80% of its energy from renewable sources at the moment. And it offsets its emissions, which means it's been carbon neutral since 2003. [7]

Swiss Re is looking to keep up the good work between now and 2020—making sure emissions don’t rise any further. An ambitious goal, considering it wants to keep growing in emerging markets.


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