Climate Policy’s Biggest Ally?

Victims Of Superstorm Sandy Continue To Recover As House Votes On Aid Package

According to Jim Malewitz, it might not be who you’d expect:

“The insurance industry, without a doubt, is in a unique position to influence society in reducing risks,” says Cynthia McHale, director of the insurance program at Ceres, a coalition of investors who advocate for sustainable business practices. Why would insurers want to wade into that politically fraught debate? Because climate disasters are forcing them to pay more claims than ever before. Hurricanes, floods, tornados, droughts and wildfires continue to pummel the U.S. with growing frequency and ferocity, particularly in places with swelling populations.

So far, few U.S.-based insurers have joined the call for emissions reductions and other comprehensive solutions to climate threats. But the story is different overseas, where the subject of climate change is far less divisive.” For example, German-based insurer Munich Re Group boldly proclaims on its website that climate change is “one of the greatest risks facing mankind,” and boasts that it has “actively supported and advanced climate protection and adaptation to global warming.”

Additionally, the US Government Accountability Office recently added large payouts due to extreme weather events to its “High Risk List”, which “calls attention to agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation”:

Climate change poses significant financial risks to the federal government, which owns extensive infrastructure, such as defense installations; insures property through the National Flood Insurance Program; and provides emergency aid in response to natural disasters. GAO added this area because the federal government is not well positioned to address the fiscal exposure presented by climate change and needs a government-wide strategic approach with strong leadership to manage related risks.

(Photo: A storm-damaged home awaits demolition on January 4, 2013 in the New Dorp area of the Staten Island borough of New York City. By John Moore/Getty Images)