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An Insurance-Led Response to Climate Change

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  • Anthony J. Webster
  • Richard H. Clarke

Abstract

Climate change is widely expected to increase weather related damage and the insurance claims that result from it. This will increase insurance premiums, in a way that is independent of a customer's contribution to the causes of climate change. Insurance provides a financial mechanism that mitigates some of the consequences of climate change, allowing damage from increasingly frequent events to be repaired. We observe that the insurance industry could reclaim any increase in claims due to climate change, by increasing the insurance premiums on energy producers for example, without needing government intervention or a new tax. We argue that this insurance-led levy must acknowledge both present carbon emissions and a modern industry's carbon inheritance, that is, to recognise that fossil-fuel driven industrial growth has provided the innovations and conditions needed for modern civilisation to exist and develop. A tax or levy on energy production is one mechanism that would recognise carbon inheritance through the increased (energy) costs for manufacturing and using modern technology, and can also provide an incentive to minimise carbon emissions, through higher costs for the most polluting industries. The necessary increases in insurance premiums would initially be small, and will require an event attribution (EA) methodology to determine their size. We propose that the levies can be phased in as the science of event attribution becomes sufficiently robust for each claim type, to ultimately provide a global insurance-led response to climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony J. Webster & Richard H. Clarke, 2015. "An Insurance-Led Response to Climate Change," Papers 1509.01157, arXiv.org, revised Apr 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1509.01157
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