Zurich Financial Services Australia (Zurich) has today announced progressive new targets and initiatives that reinforce its commitment to sustainability and paving the way within the insurance industry.
The Company has formally announced several targets and initiatives to drive forward its sustainability efforts in Australia and New Zealand:
- Reducing absolute emissions from its local operations by 60% by 2025 and 76% by 2029 (from 2019 levels)
- Reducing total CO2e emissions from printed paper by 70% by 2025 (against 2019 levels).
- Reducing the carbon intensity of its local investment portfolio by 25% by 2025 (from 2019 levels) with the aim to have a carbon neutral portfolio by 2050. This commitment has seen Zurich already divest from several high emitters identified in its portfolio.
- A pilot with Reforest, a platform that connects businesses and their customers to remove CO2 and regenerate local ecosystems within Australia.
Speaking about the new initiatives Zurich Australia & New Zealand CEO, Justin Delaney commented, “Just recently, Zurich Insurance Group announced it had brought forward its global net zero operations target by 20-years, with a new target of 2030. This is on top of the Group’s ESG rating being upgraded to ‘AAA’ – the highest possible score from the investment research firm, MSCI. Locally in Australia and New Zealand, our new targets support Zurich’s global approach to ensure a more sustainable future for our people, customers and communities.”
Zurich has already exceeded its local target to offset 100% of electricity consumed across Australia and New Zealand, with most of its power being sourced from renewables. In addition to Zurich Tower’s 5 Star Green Star Rating by the Green Building Council of Australia, it now uses ‘GreenPower’, a certified renewable energy sourced from wind farms in Tasmania.
These new initiatives will be overseen by Shaneen Marshall, who takes on the expanded role of Head of Strategy and Sustainability. In this role, Marshall is responsible for managing Zurich Australia & New Zealand’s new sustainability strategy at an enterprise level and driving its global ambition to be one of the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world.
Marshall commented: “We want sustainability to be at the heart of our business and having explicit executive accountability so close to our strategy shows our commitment to achieving this. I’m delighted to have been given this opportunity to drive forward our efforts in Australia and New Zealand. We have made significant progress already and I’m excited to build upon our solid foundations and for Zurich to contribute towards a net-zero Australia & New Zealand.”
In its first local customer initiative to be launched this year, Zurich has also announced a pilot with Reforest, a platform that connects businesses and their customers to remove CO2 and regenerate local ecosystems within Australia.
During the pilot, Zurich Retail Life will purchase a tree on behalf of new life insurance customers who opt into the initiative to offset their own emissions. Through the Reforest platform, customers can find out more about their tree through an interactive portal and see it as part of the Widgewah Conservation Sanctuary in Victoria. They will also have the option to purchase additional trees. Each tree contributes towards the pilot goal of planting 2,500 trees and removing 575 tonnes of CO2 across 35 hectares.
These initiatives build on existing measures already made by Zurich, including adherence to strict global exclusion policies which prevent the company from underwriting or investing in companies that generate more than 30% of their revenue from mining thermal coal or produce more than 20 million tons of thermal coal per year.
It also builds on Zurich’s extensive work to date through its Climate Change Resilience Services, launched in 2020. These services address current and future physical risks related to natural hazards and climate change, leveraging the company’s extensive risk engineering expertise, to help businesses understand their exposure and navigate their transition to net-zero.
Marshall concluded: “With more than half a million individual customers and many large corporate partners across Australia & New Zealand it is our responsibility to do the right thing by our planet and encourage others to do the same. Sustainability will increasingly be embedded into everything we do for our customers, advisers, brokers, employees and partners and the growth of our business will continue to be guided by environmental, social and governance goals.”