Canadian Underwriter

IBC’s solution to ‘finger-pointing’ on who should fund climate resiliency

October 14, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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With weather catastrophes costing the industry billions, insurers are calling for a “whole of society” approach to mitigating climate risk.

“Some of our insurer members have been on the vanguard of talking about climate change for many many years now. Insurers see themselves as partners with academia, government, and the rest of the financial sector,” Don Forgeron, CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said during a webinar Wednesday.

Forgeron spoke on Task Force for a Resilient Recovery – Bold Moves to Guide Recovery Spending, a panel hosted by CatIQ.

The Task Force For A Resilient Recovery is an independent group of Canadian finance, policy and sustainability leaders, including Forgeron. Its final report, released in September, was the topic of discussion during the opening panel Wednesday of Financial Sector on Catastrophes & Climate Change, part of CatIQ Connect.

The Task Force For A Resilient Recovery report contains 22 recommendations for how Canadians can recover from the economic impact of COVID-19 while ensuring the nation is climate-resilient and reduces carbon emissions.

“We think about this in terms of a whole of society approach,” Forgeron said Wednesday. “There is a lot of finger-pointing going on: ‘Government needs to do more,’ and, ‘The private sector needs to step up.’ The whole of society approach is critical to finding our way through this response to building back better.”

In 2020, two events in Alberta alone resulted in about $2 billion in insured losses, Forgeron noted during the webinar. He was alluding to the June 13 hail storm affecting the Calgary area and earlier flooding in Fort McMurray.

“We need much better tools to help people who are deploying capital to figure out, ‘What are the best decisions to be made in resilience?’” Leonardo Martinez-Diaz said during Wednesday’s CatIQ panel on Task Force for a Resilient Recovery–Bold Moves to Guide Recovery Spending. Martinez-Diaz is the global director of the World Resources Institute’s sustainable finance center.

“Do you put it in the proverbial sea wall? Do you encourage communities to change land use? Do you put it in better data systems? That type of a prioritization decision is not easy. So we need better tools to help decision makers deploy capital more effectively.”

CatIQ Connect is a series of one-day webinars. The next CatIQ Connect webinars are scheduled Dec. 3, Feb. 11 and June 10.

Among its recommendations, the Task Force For A Resilient Recovery calls for more public funding to retrofit existing home and building stocks across Canada, improving energy efficiency and resiliency (including flood proofing).

To implement that recommendation, the task force is recommending a three-year funding increase of $10 billion, split between the Low-Carbon Economy Fund and the Green Municipal Fund. It also recommends a new homeowner tax credit for resiliency retrofits similar in concept to the Home Accessibility Tax Credit.


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