Convex’s Delhaise: Global Stocktake to highlight industry contribution
Convex’s Rachel Delhaise will be among the industry representatives on the ground at COP28. She met with ESG Insurer ahead of the event to identify the key themes likely to emerge from the summit.
This year’s COP talks will mark the conclusion of the first ever Global Stocktake – a mechanism that will allow countries and stakeholders to see where they are in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The stocktake, which will take place every five years, will inform the next round of climate action plans – which are set to be put forward by 2025.
Delhaise, head of sustainability at Convex, believes the inaugural Global Stocktake will help highlight the insurance industry’s progress against the Paris goals.
“The role of insurance is very multifaceted. If we think about the context of risk modelling, what the world has seen is that the insurance industry has a real lead in understanding climate-related risks, particularly natural catastrophes,” said Delhaise.
“Many sectors, particularly in the wider financial sector, are now realising we have unparalleled skills and tools to understand how climate change is impacting the natural world from a risk perspective.”
However, she said the industry collectively needs to do a better job of extrapolating climate change-related impact from other factors that are driving increasing loss costs in nat cat, such as inflation, policy changes and insured values.
“One of the things we can do as an industry and as a business is to work harder at identifying underlying exposure changes,” Delhaise added.
“If we can understand that better, that will allow us and the rest of the world to see more clearly where climate change is really having an impact in terms of hazard risk.”
With global inclusivity underlining the aims of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the industry is well positioned to promote insurance take-up to close the protection gap in developing countries that are most vulnerable to the physical impacts of climate change.
She highlighted the example of the Global Risk Modelling Alliance, co-developed by the Insurance Development Forum with the V20 countries to provide infrastructure such as open data, technology and practical tools to enable insurance solutions to de-risk weather events.
Well touted in climate risk circles is the insurance industry’s unique ability to provide support for both physical risk and risks associated with the transition to net zero.
Earlier this month, the COP28 presidency launched a net-zero transition charter to mobilise accountability among the private sector to step up action on climate, as well as to encourage greater transparency and integrity in corporate net-zero pledges.
“It’s not new ground, it’s reinforcing existing messaging from the UN. In its simplicity, it drives an unambiguous message: dispose of the vagaries and commit to the Paris goals by 2050 with a good plan behind that,” said Delhaise.
“The relevance of insurance to de-risking transition is huge, but I think we’ve got to really lean in to understand how different sectors are impacted and what this means from a risk perspective.”
This includes supporting heavy-emitting companies and sectors that have credible, science-based transition plans, rather than abandoning them altogether.
“We need to provide support in the right way, so that’s why it shouldn’t be a blanket approach,” Delhaise explained.
“A material number of our clients don’t yet report emissions, but that will grow and the reporting around this will change. For example, currently a firm may disclose comparatively moderate emissions but their trajectory may be to flat line or increase, which is obviously not good for transition.
“On the other hand, you could have a company with relatively high emissions now, but are putting a lot of investment into how they’re decarbonising that process – that is a more interesting proposition from a transition perspective. But it’s going to be a bumpy path in the early stages of reporting insurance-associated emissions.”
Adding a currency value to nature and blue carbon
Another area that currently lacks sufficient data and understanding is around nature and nature-related credit.
The profile of nature as opposed to purely carbon is increasing, with the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) publishing its disclosure framework recommendations in September to help firms to report and act on nature-related risks and opportunities.
The recommendations are designed to enable business and finance to integrate nature into decision-making, ultimately supporting the shift in global financial flows towards nature-positive outcomes.
“As TNFD takes hold and people start to implement that, people will be able to see the value of protecting nature’s valuable assets such as coral reefs, or an area of the seabed, which are so crucial in the fight against climate change,” said Delhaise.
“There's no question, when you start to add a currency value to something, to report on it, or recognise where it is in your own supply chain, then that raises awareness. I think we’ll continue to hear much about terrestrial-related carbon, but also a lot about blue carbon.”
Blue carbon refers to the carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems, such as tidal marshes, mangroves and seagrasses.
In November 2021, Convex announced a five-year research programme with the Blue Marine Foundation and the University of Exeter to provide empirical data on the carbon-absorption properties of the continental shelf seabed.
“In the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s overall carbon count, blue carbon barely comes into it at all, which is just madness when you think about it,” said Delhaise.
“I think that’s the point, this lack of quality data in this area. What the Convex Seascape Survey strives to do is to add to that clear objective of open source data. We’re going to be raising awareness, engaging with the rest of the carbon world, with policymakers and scientists to make sure the work is counted and recognised in the global carbon count.”
As well as promoting the importance of blue carbon and protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems, Delhaise told ESG Insurer that COP28 will provide a learning experience on the impacts and progress of the transition in different sectors of the real economy.
“On one hand, it's quite unnerving, but it really underlines that this is so important and we've absolutely got to act. It is riveting, it's like an affirmation of the work that me and others who are engaged in ESG in our own sectors are engaged in and how important that is,” she concluded.