Zurich brings net-zero target forward 20 years to 2030

Insurance group Zurich has announced a plan to invest in nature-based solutions and carbon removal technologies in a bid to reach net-zero emissions by 2030 – 20 years ahead of its original target date.

Zurich brings net-zero target forward 20 years to 2030

Zurich is also exploring technological solutions such as direct air capture and storage.

Zurich has announced that it has moved its net-zero target for 2050 forward by two decades to 2030. Under the original target, which was announced last year, Zurich was targeting a 25% cut in carbon intensity for listed equity and corporate bond investments by 2025 and emissions from operations to be reduced by 70% by 2029.

The insurance firm has now announced a revised end goal to reach net-zero by 2030. Over the next eight years, the company will run as carbon neutral across its operations and is now increasing the proportion of carbon removal offsets it will use, although the exact amount is yet to be specified.

Now, Zurich will aim to have 75% of its management procurement spend with suppliers that have their own science-based and net-zero targets for 2030.

“Since we first started measuring our carbon footprint in 2007, we have avoided an estimated one million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions, and our focus remains on reducing them to a minimum,” Zurich’s EMEA chief executive Alison Martin said.

“To balance out our unavoidable residual emissions, we are supporting innovative carbon removal solutions. The urgency of the situation means we need to be proactive and help scale up the carbon removal industry, which is still in its infancy.”

Additionally, Zurich has signed new carbon removal agreements with InterEarth, which removed CO2 using “woody biomass burial”, Bio Restorative Ideas, which plans to convert waste and invasive bamboo to biochar on the site of a former sugar cane factory in the southwest of Puerto Rico and Oregon Biochar Solutions, which produces biochar from forestry waste.

While nature-based solutions are the company’s initial focus, Zurich is also exploring technological solutions such as direct air capture and storage.

Net-Zero Insurance Alliance

Last year, Zurich was one of the investors who helped launch the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, of which members will be required to deliver net-zero emissions by 2050 across their insurance and reinsurance portfolios.

In a Statement of Commitment for the Alliance, they have signalled their intention to go beyond these in-house goals and to advocate for national policies that would enable a “socially just transition of economic sectors to net-zero”.

There is also an overarching commitment for insurers to take heed of the roadmap to net-zero by 2050 published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) this year. That roadmap states that investment for new coal plants without measures to abate emissions and future fossil fuel supply projects – especially more aggressive projects such as tar sands and arctic drilling – should be halted immediately. It also states that no new petrol or diesel cars should be sold after 2035.

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