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2017 Corporate Responsibility Report

Focus: Recent refinements to our Sustainability Risk Framework

Development of a carbon steering mechanism and a thermal coal policy

Swiss Re supports the worldwide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C above pre-industrial levels. To this end, we continually review further measures to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

After a range of such measures we have taken over the years in our product development, risk management and operations, we recently started to develop a carbon risk steering mechanism that will help guide our business towards a low-carbon world and assist our clients in their transition.

The first part of this carbon steering mechanism will take the form of a thermal coal policy, to be integrated in the Sustainability Risk Framework by mid-2018. It will apply across all lines of business on the direct, facultative and treaty sides. This transition will take some time and constructive dialogue with our clients.

Cooling towers (photo)

As part of our efforts to support the transition to a low-carbon world, we have developed a thermal coal policy, to be implemented in our Sustainability Risk Framework by mid-2018.

Sharpening our dam assessments

In 2017, we also undertook research to enhance our assessment capabilities for the specific environmental and human rights challenges potentially encountered in the Mekong River basin. The Mekong is the world’s 12th longest river, traversing six Asian countries over a distance of 4 350 km. It supports the world’s second largest aquatic biodiversity and wild fisheries worth USD 2 billion.

At the same time, the whole Mekong basin is estimated to have hydropower potential of up to 30 000 megawatts. Extensive dam construction in such an important ecosystem harbours significant sustainability risks, though, eg resettlement, affected hydrology and fishery regimes, and falling agricultural productivity in downstream areas.

We analysed these and other risks for both existing and planned dams in the Mekong basin. The results have enabled us to determine which of the projects are compliant with the policies of our Sustainability Risk Framework and to update our SBR assessment tool accordingly.