Insurance companies join the Cancun climate talks

A family passes by one of the stands promoting green energy at the Climate Village in Cancun, Mexico, on December 4, 2010 in the framework of the COP16 summit.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: The UN climate change talks will wrap up this week in Cancun, Mexico. More world leaders are arriving today and they are expected to add more pressure for an agreement. But so far -- nada. Meantime, multinational companies held their own event to highlight what they're already doing.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Scott Tong reports from Cancun on the insurance industry's efforts.


SCOTT TONG: Half an hour the conference center and all the negotiators, a nicer hotel is hosting a better-dressed group; it's a corporate event. Companies of all stripes are assessing how they'll adapt to climate change.

Peter Hoppe is with German insurance giant Munich Re.

PETER HOPPE: There will be some losers, especially the ones who don't switch their business models.

His company insures insurance companies -- which makes Munich Re big-time on the hook for the more frequent weather disasters climate change models predict.

That's the risk.

But here's the opportunity: new products. For instance, insuring farmers in poor countries. In case of extreme rain or drought, they get a payout. It's called micro-insurance.

HOPPE: If we develop microinsurance systems now, and create a certain insurance culture in the country, then once these countries become more wealthy, this may be a start of a profitable market.

If you get the details right, then yes, there's money to be made saving in a changing climate.

In Cancun, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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