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China Daily / 2021-03 / 25 / Page014

Swiss Re ramps up support for China's green development goals

By YUAN SHENGGAO | China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-25 00:00

The reinsurance industry can play a leading role in tackling climate change and in supporting green transformation to improve climate resilience, according to Christian Mumenthaler, CEO of Swiss Re Group.

In 2020, the devastating effects in extreme weather with an increase in secondary perils, such as severe storms and wildfires, contributed to $76 billion in global insured losses from natural catastrophes, Mumenthaler said.

On top of this, the world has had to face the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, China has been one of the few countries able to weather the storm and get back to growth.

"When we think about the Chinese market, we continue to think it is one of the most exciting markets in the world with very good prospects, and we have high confidence in China and its recovery," Mumenthaler said in a video link to the China Development Forum 2021 held from March 20 to 22 in Beijing.

Swiss Re has participated in the CDF since 2012, and this year focused on the topic of green transformation centering around the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

As China takes a leading role in economic growth across the world, the country is expected to achieve greater green growth in the next five years, which is of great significance to sustainable development, business insiders said.

Last year, China announced the goal to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Transitioning to a net-zero world is necessary, but it comes with risks which require a thoughtfully planned roadmap, Mumenthaler said.

"China's commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2060 is just the beginning. We place great confidence in China's determination to turn these green shoots into immense market potential on the path to net zero," he said.

"Many companies have set ambitious targets on carbon reduction combined with carbon offsetting. We are on track to be net-zero for all our business operations by 2030, and for our insurance and asset management portfolios by 2050."

Mumenthaler called for supporting climate transition by recognizing the benefits of new technologies, like carbon-removal techniques, as well as having limits for underwriting coal-related industries.

Pricing climate risks by tracking and modeling the latest scientific findings on climate change is a key strategy supporting climate transition. Another is leveraging private public partnerships working with public authorities and incorporating climate goals and sustainability criteria, he said.

"In line with China's green development goals, Swiss Re is increasing its investment to develop innovative, technology-based solutions with our clients and partners," said Russell Higginbotham, CEO of Swiss Re Asia.

"We are committed to facilitating the green transformation by joining hands with our stakeholders in China," Higginbotham said.

According to the draft outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan for national economic and social development and the long-range objectives through to the year 2035, China will control the aggregate amount and intensity of energy consumption, reduce the use of fossil energy and advance low-carbon transition in industries such as construction and transportation.

Based on the outline revealed during this year's two sessions, the annual gatherings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the government will support related regions where conditions permit to take the lead in peaking carbon emissions ahead of schedule.

John Chen, president of Swiss Re China said that China will become the world's largest insurance market in 2030, and it is Swiss Re's most important growth market.

"We are inspired by China's great ambition to promote green development in the 14th Five-Year Plan, which will drive the high-quality development of the insurance industry.

"We see great opportunities in the areas of green finance, green buildings, electric vehicles and renewable energy," Chen said.

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