Climate Change and Sustainability Resources

Climate Change and Sustainability Resources

Raising awareness on issues that affect the public’s best interest is a fundamental part of what we do.

As discussion around the impact of climate change and environmental sustainability continues to grow, the Institute is committed to keeping its members and the public informed and engaged.

Increase your understanding of climate change and its implications for the economy and actuarial practice with our links to resources, research, and informative reading.

  1. Read the introductory overview for actuaries. The CIA Climate Change and Sustainability Committee prepared this 2015 research report as an introduction to climate change issues especially for actuaries.  

  2. Ouranos was created in 2001 as a joint initiative by the Québec government, Hydro-Québec, and Environment Canada, with the financial support of Valorisation-Recherche-Québec. Ouranos’ mission is to acquire and develop knowledge on climate change, its impact, and related socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities, in order to inform decision makers about probable climate trends and advise them on identifying, assessing, promoting, and implementing local and regional adaptation strategies.

  3. The Interim Report of the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance provides an overview of the state of sustainable finance in Canada and how to support investment in climate resilience and low-carbon growth. An executive summary is also available.

  4. To contribute to the achievement of the Paris Agreement, Canada has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The federal government has announced the intent to impose a carbon tax as an incentive to the development of renewable energy sources. Some provincial governments have offered incentives to promote the use of electric cars.
  1. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed by 154 nations, became effective after ratification on March 21, 1994. Its objective was to stabilize “greenhouse gas [GHG] concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. The objective of keeping global warming to +2o Celsius was agreed to at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) held in Copenhagen in 2009 under the aegis of the United Nations. Read the introductory overview for actuaries.

  2. The Paris Agreement, signed by 195 countries in December 2015 at the 21st COP, became effective in November 2016 after ratification by 180 countries. It commits countries to adopt measures to reduce emissions of GHG (CO2, methane, and other gas) sufficiently to limit global warming to +2o Celsius above pre-industrial levels but preferably to aim for +1.5o Celsius.

  3. The Financial Stability Board has created a Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) that has published recommendations on the disclosures to be made in financial statements. These recommendations were approved by the G-20 in July 2017 but are not mandatory. However, a growing number of enterprises, asset owners, and asset managers have confirmed they will comply with the recommendations as reported on the TCFD website.
  1. Estimates provided by climatologists indicate that the probability to not exceed +2o Celsius is two-thirds if the atmospheric concentration of GHG remains below 450 ppm; the probability is reduced to one-half if the concentration reaches 500 ppm. For more information, see “The impact of climate change on the work of actuaries”.

  2. Readings of the atmospheric concentration of CO2, the main component of GHG, known as the Keeling Curve, have been published since 1958. Climatologists estimate pre-industrial readings to be of the order of 280 ppm. In 1958 the readings started at 315.69, 350 ppm was reached in 1986, and 400 ppm in 2014. Since the growth of vegetation absorbs CO2 and forests are more important in the northern hemisphere, the Keeling curve shows seasonal variations being higher in May and lower in September.

  3. The Bloomberg Carbon Clock presents a dynamic forecast for global CO2 levels.

  4. Commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement are known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and are not legally enforceable. Initial NDCs submitted by 190 countries for the 2020–2025 period are insufficient to meet the +2o Celsius target. Thus, revised NDCs are due to be set for 2025–2030. According to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) working paper dated August 2018, current NDCs are consistent with an emissions trajectory limiting warming to +3.0o C.

  5. A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report compares the impact of global warming limited to 1.5oC with 2.0oC, indicating that a half-degree reduction is highly beneficial. Extrapolation to global warming reaching +3oC would suggest much higher adverse impacts.

  6. The 4th National Climate Assessment report published by the US Global Change Research Program reviews in detail a large number of impacts and points to the need for more immediate remedial actions.

  7. The expected limitations on carbon emissions have created a risk that all available fossil fuel reserves may not be used but become stranded assets. The Inter-American Development Bank has analyzed this challenge.

  8. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report of the Sustainable Insurance Forum, “Sustainable Insurance: The Emerging Agenda for Supervisors and Regulators”.

  9. The Geneva Association has a report “An Integrated Approach to Managing Extreme Events and Climate Risks”, also available here.

  10. Got it Covered? Insurance in a Changing Climate” assesses the insurance industry response to the TCFD recommendations.

  11. Major players in the reinsurance industry have indicated they will no longer offer coverage for coal-fired power plants and are shifting investments from carbon-related assets to renewable energy. See “World’s second-largest reinsurer cuts ties with coal business”.

  12. The last Emissions Gap Report published by the UNEP proposes a timeline for achieving zero net emissions by 2050 with intermediate objectives in 2030.

  13. The successive assessment reports (AR) published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are a comprehensive source of information compiled by a large number of climatologists and other experts in climate science. The “5th AR Synthesis report” is currently available. The next AR are planned for 2021 or earlier.

  14. The “Interim Report of the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance” provides a review of the Canadian environment. An executive summary is also available.

  15. The ultimate effects of climate changes will affect human health, life, and property. However, the extent and timing of such effects are subject to a great deal of uncertainty. “Climate Change and Mortality”, a paper by the International Actuarial Association (IAA) focuses on the expected and range of effects on human mortality. It does not address other effects of climate change, such as adverse consequences to human health (except to the extent directly related to mortality), property damage, and death and reduction in diversity of other living species (for example, the bleaching of coral resulting from warmer and more acidic oceans).

  16. A recent IAA discussion paper, “Decarbonization: A Briefing for Actuaries”, introduces the topic of decarbonization for actuaries around the world. Aspects covered include the following: the main types and sources of greenhouse gas emissions; relevant international agreements; commitments made; policies adopted; likely future developments; and, observations on potential actuarial implications. While decarbonization will increasingly affect every economy and will transform how and what goods are produced and services are provided, the timing and progress of change is highly uncertain

  17. The UNEP Finance Initiative conference report from the July 2018 Sydney conference highlights the context and urgency for meaningful action to pivot the finance system so it is aligned with the development of a sustainable economy, one that prioritizes human well-being, social equity, environmental protection, and conservation.

  18. The UNFCCC Conference of the Parties 24 (COP24) in December 2018 brought together delegates from nearly 200 countries to deliver on its primary objective: a “rule book” for putting into practice the 2015 Paris Agreement. Read a preliminary assessment of the outcomes.
Actuaries Climate Index
  1. Specific information about risks arising from extreme climate events and sea rise has been available at The Actuaries Climate Index® since November 2016. The Australian Actuaries Climate Index was launched in 2018.