Sustainability at Zurich

At Zurich, we believe in action and making a positive impact through our role as insurer, investor, employer and member of the community. We have the knowledge, skills, capabilities and spirit to make a difference through our local* and global sustainability commitments.

This approach has seen Zurich Group receive the highest-possible ESG rating from MSCI, receiving a AAA rating in 2023.

In June 2019, Zurich became the first insurance company to sign the Business Ambition 1.5˚C Pledge. As part of Zurich’s Pledge, and ambition to be one of the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world, we have set sustainability actions and targets in three core areas: Our operations, our investments and our products.

* You can read about our local sustainability commitments in the ‘drop-down’ headings below.

We are taking action to progress towards a low carbon economy amid an increasing climate crisis, underpinned by our global alignment with a 1.5°C future. Locally in Australia and New Zealand, Zurich has committed to:

  • Reduce absolute emissions from our operations (including electricity, waste, paper, travel etc.) by 60% by 2025, and by 76% by 2029 from our 2019 baseline.
  • Using renewable electricity where possible and offsetting any emissions associated with electricity consumed.
  • Reduce our total CO2e emissions from printed paper by 50% by end of 2023 and 70% by end of 2025 against 2019 levels by offering digital customer communications (although customers may opt-in to paper-based communications).

Sydney’s Zurich Tower fit-out was awarded a 5 Star ‘Green Star’ Rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.

Overall, Zurich globally will continue maintaining carbon neutrality for our operations, which has been achieved since 2014. As part of our carbon neutrality commitment, our first priority is to reduce emissions through operational efficiency measures and then offset the remaining emissions by purchasing certified carbon credits. 

As part of our commitment to sustainability, Zurich Group is a signatory of the UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance and the Principles for Responsible Investment.

At a global level, Zurich is proud to be a leading responsible investor. On top of investment returns, we are focused on achieving a net-zero investment portfolio by 2050, aiming for a 25% reduction in carbon intensity of our portfolio by 2025 compared to the 2019 baseline.

We are also a global leading impact investor. In 2017,  Zurich globally became the first private sector investor to introduce impact targets. In 2018, we developed an impact measurement framework to track the success of our impact portfolio. Our portfolio includes green, social and sustainability bonds which contribute funding to renewable projects within Australia and across the globe.

Global impact measurement**

USD 7.9 billion in impact investing, which has delivered:

4.5 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions avoided

4.6 million people benefitted

Zurich Australia & New Zealand

We measure the impact of our shareholder assets using a
carbon intensity score*.

In 2019 we began with a baseline score of 148.

We have set a 2025 target of a 25% reduction in the carbon intensity of our portfolio, which is equivalent to a score of 111.

*The carbon emissions of companies (Scope 1 and Scope 2) in which we invest, either directly or indirectly are considered. In scope assets are equity and credit assets (ex-semi government and ABS). The emission of holdings are calculated as:

  • Emission of invested asset = (investment holdings/company enterprise value)* total company emission (level 1 and 2)
  • Intensity = Emission of invested asset/in scope asset

Some volatility in carbon intensity number is expected

**As at December 2023, source: Zurich Insurance Group Annual Report 2023 (page 176)

At a global level, Zurich has committed to transitioning all operational and attributable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions1 from its insurance and reinsurance underwriting portfolios to net-zero emissions by 2050. To reduce emissions associated to our insurance portfolio we will support our customers in reducing their own emissions.

Zurich has amended its risk appetite in underwriting and changed how it invests to align with its 1.5°C goals.  We engage with our clients and investee companies to better manage sustainability risks and strive to promote best practices.

1. GHG emissions here refer to insurers’ and reinsurers’ Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Insurers’ and reinsurers’ Scope 3 emissions should include their customers’ Scope 1 and 2 and Scope 3 emissions, where significant, and where data allows.

We believe that our knowledge, experience, and relationships position us to support our customers, partners, and community in transitioning to a 1.5°C future and building resilience to a changing climate.

In 2020, Zurich Resilience Solutions launched dedicated risk management services to help businesses understand their exposure to natural hazards, and tackle climate change risks, addressing current and future physical risks related to natural hazards and climate change, and ultimately helping businesses to reach net-zero.

Globally, Zurich engages with the companies we invest in on matters of sustainability and climate change. In addition, we drive a top-down climate engagement campaign for net-zero target setting, and consider climate change in voting actions.

Zurich uses Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) methodology to conduct research and independent reviews of natural catastrophes to identify best practice and opportunities for improvement. In 2021, Zurich Australia released a PERC report  about the 2018/19 Tasmanian bushfires.

Through the Z Zurich Foundation, Zurich globally contributes to community disaster preparedness and relief, most notably through the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance. In 2020, Zurich Australia and New Zealand, through the Z Zurich Foundation, invested $2.58m to support bushfire and COVID-19 relief efforts.

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