Wine industry driving climate change
Vines are reflected in rain droplets at the Cambridge vineyard, a part of the Frogmore Creek winery located on the outskirts of Hobart in Tasmania June 3, 2014. Australia's wine-growing industry is responding to the rigors of climate change. A study by the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that up to 73 percent of Australian land currently used for viticulture could become unsuitable by 2050. As the country's traditional wine growing regions, including the Barossa, the Hunter Valley and Margaret River grow ever hotter and drier, winemakers are rushing to the cool climate of the tiny island state of Tasmania. While the national wine industry has shrunk 1.9 percent annually from 2009 to 2014, the Tasmanian state industry is growing at a rate of close to 10 percent per annum, according to the Tasmanian Climate Change Office. Picture taken June 3, 2014. Reuters/David Gray

A new report released on Nov. 2 has found that Australian insurance companies lie far behind the rest of the world when it comes to disclosing their stand and position on global warming.

The report says that the insurance companies in the nation fail to explain to their consumers how they are managing the risks associated with climate change. The inability of Australia's top risk managers to disclose the social, political, security and economic risks associated with global warming to their insurance consumers is akin to witholding information.

The Insurance and Climate Change Disclosure in Australia report examined publicly disclosed statements on global warming issued by local general insurers IAG, QBE and Suncorp. The report compared these statements with that of major international insurers Prudential, Alliance and AXA. In addition, the local insurers were compared to four major Australian financial sector peers, including Westpac, National Australia Bank, ANZ, and Commonwealth Bank.

The comparison revealed that none of the local insurance companies included a public climate change statement in their sustainability reports or annual reviews. However, their international peers and the banks had proper disclosure in the reports.

“Global warming will have significant impacts on the insurance industry through increased claims, reputational damage, decline in insurance affordability, and an increase in uninsurable sectors or geographies,” said Monica Richter, WWF-Australia’s Business Engagement Manager - Climate Change, in a statement.

Richter further said that in the absence of proper climate-related risk disclosure, Australian consumers and shareholders remain at the risk of unexpected costs and regulatory shifts. The report also mentions that none of the insurers examined mentions the 2 Degree climate change target as an important climate threshold in any of their public documents.

The engagement manager has urged the insurers to inform people of the climate-related risks and the associated costs by including a disclosure in the documents.

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