Zurich Insurance Follows Munich Re in Leaving Climate Alliance

Zurich Insurance Group announced its withdrawal from the Net Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) on Wednesday

Source: Reuters | Published on April 10, 2023

Zurich Insurance

Zurich Insurance Group announced its withdrawal from the Net Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) on Wednesday, making it the second founding member to leave the climate group in less than a week.

NZIA members have faced increasing pressure from campaigners to move faster in cutting emissions linked to their underwriting as part of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero umbrella group of sectors pushing to decarbonize.

Zurich, one of Europe’s largest insurers, stated that it wanted to “focus our resources to support our customers with their transition” after developing a standardized methodology for tracking and disclosing emissions.

Zurich’s move comes after Munich Re announced that it would leave the group due to antitrust concerns about corporate alliances to combat climate change.

A Zurich spokesperson declined to comment on whether antitrust concerns influenced its decision to leave, but stated that the decision was not in response to Munich Re.

“It is not something we decided yesterday or Friday, but something we have been considering for quite some time,” said a spokesman.

“Zurich’s sustainability ambitions predate its NZIA membership.” The Group’s commitment to sustainability will not be affected by its withdrawal from the NZIA.”
NZIA, one of several financial industry alliances working to reduce carbon emissions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When contacted on Wednesday, Allianz and Aviva stated that there had been no changes to previous statements confirming their commitment to NZIA. AXA’s spokesperson declined to comment.

Antitrust concerns are at the heart of a growing sustainability backlash in the United States, which is being led by Republican politicians, and legal experts in the United States and Europe have urged regulators to provide more assurances to companies seeking to collaborate to combat climate change.

“From the beginning, the NZIA has allowed itself to be immobilized by antitrust concerns,” said Peter Bosshard, coordinator of the non-profit Insure Our Future campaign group.

“With Munich Re and now Zurich leaving the alliance, insurers have an even greater direct responsibility to align their businesses with a credible 1.5C (Celsius) pathway,” he said, referring to the world’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the mid-century mark.

Following a stark climate warning from U.N. scientists, a group of climate activists last month sent a letter to 30 insurance company CEOs, including those at Munich Re and Zurich, urging them to “immediately” stop underwriting new fossil fuel projects.