Flooding, fires and storms: Why RSA is paying attention to climate change
As Canada kicks off celebrations for World Environment Day on June 5, severe weather continues to dominate headlines.
In May, the New Brunswick Emergency Organization put residents near the swollen Saint John River on high alert as heavy rains hammered the region. Meanwhile, B.C.’s warmer-than-usual spring has triggered mudslides across the province.
Last month also saw massive flooding across eastern Ontario and Quebec, prompting communities to send out evacuation notices, declare states of emergency and call in the Canadian Forces to aid in relief efforts. Right now, communities along Lake Ontario continue to feel the impacts of record-high water levels.
“We are bracing for an influx of claims as our customers begin to see the impact of these events on their homes and their lives,” says Shari Douglas, vice-president of national underwriting operations for RSA Canada. “Scary stuff to say the least.”
As an insurance leader, RSA has good reason to pay close attention to extreme weather. Just look at last year. From the devastating Fort McMurray wildfire to the Moose Jaw hailstorm to the Thanksgiving floods in Cape Breton, 2016 set a record for insured damage caused by severe weather and natural disasters — totalling close to $5 billion. “The connection between insurance and climate change is very clear,” Douglas says.
Last month, that connection was made even clearer when WWF-Canada sat down with RSA’s executive team to discuss the impacts of climate change on the world today — and what they might mean for the insurance industry. The presentation reinforced the company’s commitment to be leaders in building a sustainable future.
RSA’s best hope of mitigating and preventing the risks of climate change is in visible leadership that results in public, corporate and governmental behaviour changes
“RSA’s best hope of mitigating and preventing the risks of climate change is in visible leadership that results in public, corporate and governmental behaviour changes,” says senior vice-president IT and chief information officer John Elliot.
To that end, RSA is leading the way on a number of fronts. Their corporate green teams are finding ways to shrink the company’s footprint, championing recycling programs, energy audits and other initiatives. Meanwhile, as the lead sponsor for WWF-Canada’s Living Planet @ Work program, RSA is giving workplaces across the country the tools they need to slow the pace of climate change.
The company is also helping its customers reduce their environmental impact and mitigate the risks of extreme weather. That means promoting everything from public transit to solar panels to smart technology that reduces electricity consumption, and more.
On a global scale, RSA is a major supporter of green energy, insuring one-quarter of the world’s wind turbines and a host of hydro and solar power operations. “As leader of renewable energy, we promote the technology because in all forms, renewable energy is a safe and healthy alternative,” says assistant vice-president of global specialty lines Louis Vatrt. RSA Canada also worked with WWF-Canada to identify the best sites for renewable energy projects in this country.
World Environment Day is an opportunity to celebrate our incredible natural world. But it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the people working hard to protect it. For senior leadership at RSA, that means doing more than responding to fires, floods and ice storms when they happen. It also means taking action to mitigate them in the future by doing whatever they can to tackle climate change.