Climate Change: How Will UK Insurers Be Affected?

Litigation alleging a link between the activities of companies or industry sectors responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and climate change has already begun

Published: 22-Feb-2006

The Third Assessment Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001) confirms the broad scientific consensus that climate change is already occurring and will continue. The balance of evidence suggests that the cause is the increasing concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.

Some governments have already begun to respond. Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are now bound to reduce their combined emissions of greenhouse gases by at least five per cent from 1990 levels. In the EU, a carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme (the "EU ETS") was set up this year as part of an effort to curb emissions from certain industrial sectors. Other governments, including the US, have been much slower to act, or even accept the link between greenhouse gas emission and climate change.

Even if the response were immediate and comprehensive, it would take many years to have any impact on the current scale or rate of climate change. The following can therefore be expected: