Yesterday, Handelsblatt published an interview with Munich RE’s CEO Joachim Wenning on climate change and its fatal effects. He showed again that he has perfectly understood the meaning of the Paris Agreement, explaining that by 2050 the carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels need to be reduced by 90 percent.
Considering Munich Re has warned about climate change since the 1970s it is no surprise its CEO has a strong grasp of the issues at hand. What is surprising, however, is his lack of willingness to consider the consequences and take action.
Last year’s storms and this year’s heatwave highlight the urgent need for climate action. In the interview Mr Wenning points to the fact that the EU’s action to combat climate is far from sufficient and that climate change will force more and more people to leave their homes and countries. And yet his support for a fossil fuel phase out is very lukewarm: “complicated, loss of wealth, unemployment” are his words and warnings.
Consequently, he defends Munich RE’s continued support for coal fired power plants, in stark contrast to peers like Allianz and Swiss Re who exclude the underwriting of coal plants and mines from their business activity. “We do not believe that this will contribute to the change in the energy mix,” he responded. Munich RE’s approach is supporting the energy transition via supporting renewable energies.
However, this approach is a bit like supporting the fire-fighters while pouring oil on the fire. Munich RE will have to walk the talk on the urgent need to act on climate change if they want to maintain credibility.