Allianz Advocating Renewable Energy in Asia

Asia Pacific has seen an increased intensity of floods and typhoons in Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, and heat waves and bushfires in Australia in 2009. In the coming decades scientists expect a growing frequency of natural catastrophes which they relate to climate change.

The market for renewable energy plays a key role in the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change. "Investments in clean energy do not only help to combat climate change, but are also seen to be sound long-term investments from a financial point of view," said Armin Sandhoevel, CEO of Allianz Climate Solutions, at the Clean Energy Expo Asia. Three weeks ahead of the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, experts from technology, politics and finance met in Singapore to discuss challenges and opportunities for the development of clean energy in Asia Pacific.

"The demographic change and strong economic growth of countries in Asia will lead to a drastic rise of energy demand in the coming decades," Mr. Sandhoevel said. "Supportive political frameworks such as tax breaks, feed-in-tariffs or subsidy schemes for low carbon technologies help to align investments with climate protection in the long term. That’s why we continue our call on governments to set a transparent and ambitious course for climate regulation also in Asia."

Allianz has invested for several years into renewable energies and considers these assets a promising engagement. The company holds wind power assets worth over 500 million euros and plans to expand its renewables portfolio by a billion euros in combined wind and photovoltaic investments until the end of 2012.

Asia’s stake in the global renewables market

According to the UN1, the global investments in renewable energy amounted to 119 billion US dollars in 2008. The majority of renewable energy investments were realized in the EU, with the US and China having the second and third largest share. Every fifth dollar was invested in Asia Pacific. The region contributed 24.2 billion US dollars in new green investments in 2008, an increase of 12 percent to the year before. China led new investment in Asia, with a 18 percent increase over 2007 to 15.6 billion US dollars, mostly in new wind energy projects, and some biomass plants. Investment in India grew 12 percent to 4.1 billion US dollars in 2008.

Green buildings for a fast growing region

"Investing in green energy is a good way how large companies such as Allianz can contribute to the environment. Additionally we feel obliged to promote low carbon behaviour and see unique chances in green buildings", Mr. Sandhoevel said. Buildings contribute over 20 percent to global CO2 emissions. With over half the world’s urban population destined to live in the Asia Pacific region by 2030, sustainable and low carbon provision of housing and office space in Asian cities will play a key role in fighting climate change.

Some countries in Asia Pacific have already established green building standards and rating tools. Australia is using the "GreenStar", Japan the "CASBEE" and Malaysia the "GBI", others are in the process of developing rating systems or are just considering the process. Rating systems provide verification to reconfirm that a building is environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy.

Allianz promotes low carbon behaviour and offers solutions targeted at energy efficient homes. In the US, Allianz’s Fireman’s Fund offers coverage for green commercial buildings and private homes. Coverage includes the rebuilding according to green standards after an insured loss. This includes the usage of non-toxic paints and carpeting and special electrical systems.

Green buildings for a fast growing region

Today, around 40 percent of Allianz’ global industrial insurance claims stem from natural catastrophes. Worldwide, weather-related insurance claims grew 15-fold over the past 30 years. Allianz addresses the impacts of climate change in its business by developing climate-related products, investing in technologies to mitigate climate change and advocating action. A selection of climate-related products and services include:

* Renewable energy insurance for corporate and commercial clients to cover property and engineering of renewable energy technologies.
* Allianz-dit Global Eco-Trends, a fund portfolio that consists of companies which focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, environmental protection as well as water supply and water treatment. Approximately 20 percent of the fund’s assets are invested in emerging economies. In Asia Pacific the product is sold in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
* In Australia, climate change is expected to result in more severe droughts, as well as more extreme rain events. Yield Shield – Crop Water Stress Insurance is a product that compensates for loss of crop yield (wheat and sorghum) due to insufficient rain or water logging.
* In 2007, Allianz established Allianz Climate Solutions as a subsidiary with the explicit aim to develop new products and identify investment trends related to climate change.

The Allianz group is one of the largest insurers and financial services providers in the world. More than 181, 207 people work for the group all over the world. It was founded in 1890 in Berlin, Germany and caters to around 60 million customers in more than 70 countries.