Shifting to neutral

Munich Reinsurance Co. has been talking about global climate change and its potential impacts for years, going beyond simply talking about the issue, in fact, and committing its own research resources to studying the phenomenon and its various implications.

It’s a sensible and, probably, necessary step for a global reinsurer whose bottom line is potentially exposed to weather-related events.

It was interesting, though, to see the German-based reinsurer take another step this week, acting not simply as a global business enterprise but as a global citizen, announcing the company’s commitment to taking steps to limit its part in any man-made contributions to climate change.

Earlier this week, Munich Re announced that the company aims to be “climate neutral” by 2012. Essentially, Munich Re plans to reduce its per employee emissions of greenhouse gases, and balance remaining emissions with other steps aimed at reducing emissions elsewhere.

Munich Re, which has offices in more than 50 locations around the world, said its head office in Munich–where more than half its international reinsurance workforce is based–will be CO2 neutral by 2009. And, in addition to reducing per employee emissions, Munich Re said it would use “green” power sources, invest in renewable energies and reforestation and participate in climate-protection projects in emerging countries.

Munich Re has been outspoken about the perceived impact of global climate change—earlier this year the company was one of around 100 signatories to a joint declaration issued by the Global Roundtable on Climate Change calling for a greater international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Munich Re isn’t alone in the reinsurance industry in its commitment. Swiss Reinsurance Co. also has long been speaking out about climate change, is also a signatory to the Global Roundtable declaration, and has its own commitment to becoming greenhouse neutral by 2013 through reductions in its own emissions and investments that would offset the remainder.

Having expressed their thoughts about the impact of global climate change and the need to address the issue, it’s good to see these reinsurers doing what they can to lead that effort by example.

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