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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

13 December 2021 – The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) ClimateWise initiative has published a new report on net zero underwriting commitment and the practical actions. 

Read the report

Insurers in Paris-aligned climate transition: Practical actions towards new zero underwriting outlines the current definition of net zero, exploring its implications for the insurance industry and policy makers. It charts existing tools and practices developed for underwriters to identify, evaluate and measure net zero target robustness and alignment to 1.5C. It also identifies challenges faced by underwriters in the net zero transition and the potential for improvement and innovation. 

Key considerations for net zero underwriting  

To propel net zero underwriting practices, the key considerations include:  

  • Setting boundaries for emission scope for insurance industry  
  • Measuring net zero alignment with carbon footprinting, transition pathway evaluation and temperature score  
  • Understanding net zero implications for each insurance underwriting lines of business  
  • Reacting to different insured client, asset and activities  

Practical actions exemplified with tools and practices trailed in the report  

These considerations are followed with case studies exploring practical actions to ensure insured client and underwriting portfolio are aligned with net zero targets, and to understand an insurer’s own capacity to manage alignment to net zero. 

  • The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) Investment Leaders Group’s Temperature Score Methodology converts emissions reporting data into an intuitive degree Celsius metric.   
  • Climate Transition Pathways (CTP) creates a practical solution that insurers, as well as other financial institutions, can utilise to help them meet their net zero commitments, enabling them to identify and support those insured organisations committed to executing robust transition plans.  
  • Milliman LLP (Milliman) and OneRisk Consulting Limited (ORC) worked in partnership to create an underwriting portfolio climate risk assessment tool.   

Citing this report 

University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2021, December). Insurers in Paris-aligned climate transition: Practical actions towards net zero underwriting. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. 

Published: December 21

Authors and acknowledgements

The research designers and authors of the report are CISL’s Dr Bronwyn Claire and Meng-Lian Li. They are supported by CISL colleagues Dr Nina Seega and Nick Villiers. Members of the ClimateWise Net Zero Underwriting group are greatly appreciated for their invaluable contribution in shaping the project and engaging in case studies. Member organisations in the group included the Association of British Insurers, Beazley, Brit, Canopius, DAC Beachcroft, Ecclesiastical, Hiscox, Howden Group Holdings, Liberty Specialty Markets, Lloyd’s, Marsh McLennan, MS Amlin, Renaissance Re, RSA, Tokio Marine HCC, Tokio Marine Kiln and Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire.  

The authors of the case studies are Dr Pablo Salas Bravo, Jason Teo, Lucy Auden and Andreas Bedorf from CISL’s Centre for Sustainable Finance Investment Leaders Group, Dr Tony Rooke, Elizabeth Lister and Paul Clark from Willis Towers Watson, Neil Cantle, Yoke Hon Hue and Ian Penfold from Milliman and Martin Massey from OneRisk Consulting Ltd. 


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The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL or The University of Cambridge.