Friday, November 21, 2008

Climate risks draw insurance industry Businesses face both opportunities and threats as the pace of climate change accelerates, delegates to a Vancouver conference heard Thursday. Insurers are racing to develop suites of new products that recognize climate-related risks, and engineers are scrambling to meet demand for infrastructure and green-energy projects.

Zurich North America senior vice-president Urs Uhlmann said clients of the 132-year-old insurance company are looking for policies on everything from offshore wind farms to carbon credits. "At Zurich, we support the view that climate change is real and that the changes are happening beyond our expectations," Uhlmann told a conference organized by Simon Fraser University's Adaptation to Climate Change Team.

He said the company in January 2008 established a global climate change office "to better understand emerging political, financial, regulatory and reputational risks associated with them. "In terms of product developments, we now provide political-risk insurance, coverage for carbon credit projects around the world. "We have introduced products for alternative-energy facilities and established a dedicated alternative-energy unit offering a full suite of property casualty products to operators of alternative energy facilities. As part of that, we've launched a new product focusing on offshore wind farms."

Bill Borland, Canadian federal programs vice-president for AMEC, a global engineering and project management company, said clients are "more and more often" asking them to "integrate sustainability" into their projects. "Frankly, years ago, we didn't get that kind of request," Borland said….

Nothing says risk like... the fog creeping in. Shot by Josh Lewis on a cold. wet hike in September 2007, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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