March 8, 2021 by David Gambrill
Aviva plc has set an aggressive target to become a net zero carbon emissions company by 2040.
“Aviva is taking bold steps to help tackle the climate crisis,” Amanda Blanc, Aviva Group’s CEO, said when announcing the 2040 Net Zero plan last week. “As the UK’s leading insurer, we have a huge responsibility to change the way we invest, insure, and serve our customers. For the world to reach net zero, it’s going to take leadership and radical ambition. And it is going to take Aviva to play our part.”
Aviva Canada will be doing its part to meet this commitment, Jason Storah, CEO of Aviva Canada, confirmed to Canadian Underwriter in an interview Friday. “Aviva’s commitment to 2040 is the most demanding target of any of the major insurance companies around the world,” he said. “When I see [climate change] commitments, they are generally in 2050. We’ve knocked 10 years off that.”
For companies doing business with Aviva Canada, you may likely hear about this initiative soon. Part of the plan is for the insurer to encourage industry stakeholders to review and reduce their own carbon footprint as well.
Key elements of Aviva plc’s 2040 Net Zero climate change plan include:
“Engaging companies to make the transition is critical,” Aviva plc states in a release announcing the plan.
“In January 2021, Aviva Investors announced it is intensifying active ownership of investments through its ‘climate engagement escalation programme,’ starting with 30 systemically important carbon emitters in the oil and gas, metals and mining, and utilities sectors. Aviva Investors is making specific asks of these companies, including signing up to Science Based Targets aligned to the Paris Agreement and setting fixed deadlines of between 12 and 36 months.
“If Aviva Investors does not see evidence of serious engagement from the companies to meet the climate challenge, it will put them on its stop-list and divest itself of any assets it holds.”
In Canada, key initiatives for Aviva include “moving to renewable energies, moving to a hybrid or electrical vehicle fleet, [and] cutting down our carbon footprint,” Storah told Canadian Underwriter.
According to Aviva plc, net zero in Aviva’s global operations by 2030 means, for example:
Another part of the plan involves Aviva Canada taking a leadership role and encouraging its Canadian stakeholder to reduce their carbon footprint. Aviva Canada will be engaging “all of the partners that we work with, and the stakeholders in the industry…in discussions about what they are doing,” Storah said.
Storah observed that Aviva’s climate change plan requires a long-term focus that transcends the pandemic. Having seen the “brutal” impact of the pandemic on Canada, Storah said four lessons from COVID apply to tackling the climate change agenda.
“There are four learnings from COVID,” Storah said. “First, is the profound impact of COVID…[But], as huge as it was, I think it pales by comparison to the impact of climate change.
“The second key learning is that the most vulnerable got hardest hit.
“The third is, you can’t pretend that [an issue such as the pandemic or climate change] doesn’t exist, or that it’s going to go away on its own. That just makes the situation worse.
“And then the fourth and final learning is that it’s science that’s going to get us through this. Science, vaccinations, are getting us through COVID. And absolutely science and innovation are going to get us through climate change.”
Feature photo courtesy of iStock.ca/enot-poloskun