Swiss re/insurer, Zurich Insurance Group has spoken out about climate change and the re/insurance industry’s role in creating awareness.
Scientists have been warning mankind for decades that humans are causing severe and potentially irreversible changes to the climate, essentially heating the earth ourselves with carbon dioxide and methane.
Climate change-induced events that range from from devastating hurricanes to deadly wildfires seem to make headlines on an increasingly regular basis, whist being accompanied by messages from a new generation of environmental activists.
And yet, it took a global pandemic to make a significant impact on our collective carbon emissions.
It is clear that the issue is not one of awareness since the 2018 Pew Research Centre survey, which polled 27,612 respondents in 26 countries, found that 67% of people consider climate change to be a major threat – up from 56% in 2013.
Instead, Zurich believes that it starts as a communications challenge that requires transforming awareness into action by inspiring people to internalise their individual roles in addressing climate change.
However, it’s apparent that one of the main roadblocks preventing people moving from awareness to action on climate change is the way the topic is talked about.
Norwegian psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes had spoken about prevailing approaches to global warming in his TED Talk, ‘How to transform apocalypse fatigue into action on global warming’.
Stoknes commented: “Climate change is usually framed as a looming disaster. So many of us are suffering from a kind of apocalypse fatigue.
“And when people hear about the climate, we hear about something far away in space, far away in time, and it is slow moving. It’s not here; it’s not now. It seems outside my circle of influence,” adds Stoknes.
Conny Kalcher, Chief Customer Officer at Zurich, agrees with Stoknes and believes that insurers need to adopt a more optimistic tone in their communications.
Kalcher adds: “We need to start voicing a positive picture of a carbon-neutral future and stop focusing on the rhetoric of catastrophe in our communications. People need to feel they can make positive change, because if it feels like nothing can be done then it’s unlikely we’ll feel motivated to act.
“We must also talk in a way that is local and personal. Pacific islands submerging into the sea may feel remote if you live in Europe. Climate change impacts us all, so we should extend the conversation to also talk about how climate change will impact local livelihoods.”
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