Ecologically-aware driving with Allianz and the WWF

Climate change continues to accelerate. For financial service providers, it’s important to determine where the risks arise, and what their consequences will be. Even today, 40 percent of all losses insured worldwide are already caused by weather. Allianz is working on concepts that integrate climate considerations into its product development.

The first example – a one-of-a-kind product in Germany – is "ECOmotion." It allows environmentally aware drivers to neutralize their CO2 emissions, effective immediately. Allianz offers them a way to buy CO2 mitigation certificates in combination with their car insurance. "The crucial factors here were to find trustworthy partners and set the right criteria for the certificate," said Karl-Walter Gutberlet, a member of the Board of Management of Allianz Versicherungs-AG. "We decided for certificates under the 'Gold Standard' that the WWF has helped develop – it ensures sustainable reduction of environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gas. We still offer our clients extensive, top-notch automotive insurance protection, and we also intend to set premium standards with ECOmotion."

A sticker with the WWF seal signifies that the car emits less than 140g of CO2 per kilometer

Prevent, reduce, neutralize – it’s a triad of CO2 mitigation measures that Allianz will support with concrete action. "Our highly mobile society will not be able to eliminate CO2 emissions entirely from vehicle traffic any time soon. But as an insurer, we can encourage environmentally aware conduct, and thus help reduce emissions," Gutberlet explains. Allianz’s rate plans already take account of kilometers driven – low-mileage drivers have been benefiting from that advantage for years. But Allianz and the WWF will also work with partners in science to develop a concept for incorporating CO2 emissions into future rate plans. "What interests us as an insurer is how environmentally aware driving affects environmental damage. But there are also indications that environmentally aware drivers are also good insurance clients. We’ll look into this in more detail now. The aim is to incorporate our clients’ climate-related conduct into our rate plans within the medium term," says Gutberlet. "But until we get to that point, as a first step we’re offering our car insurance clients a way to neutralize their CO2 emissions with ECOmotion."

Karl-Walter Gutberlet, board member of Allianz Versicherungs-AG

A client who decides to buy ECOmotion can purchase a CO2 reduction certificate from Allianz along with car insurance, and thus invest directly in projects to protect the climate. One of Europe’s leading emissions trading and CO2 asset management firms, 3C Consulting GmbH, reviews and selects high-quality climate protection projects that meet the requirements of the recognized Gold Standard. These might be solar installations or wind farms built in place of coal-fueled power plants, or biogas plants that generate energy in place of fossil-fueled units. The CO2 emissions that these projects prevent are represented by certificates whose sale helps finance the projects. "Technical service providers like TÜV Süd continuously check that greenhouse gases are actually averted," explains 3C managing board member Sascha Lafeld.

The cost of a certificate depends on the type of vehicle, the number of kilometers driven per year, and the current price of mitigation certificates on the world market. For example, a CO2 mitigation certificate for a VW Passat driven 11,000 kilometers a year is about EUR 37. That allows a client to neutralize a car’s CO2 emissions for a year.

Every client who buys ECOmotion receives confirmation that the certificate has been bought. Additionally, every car that is insured by an ECOmotion purchaser and that emits less than 140g of CO2 per kilometer gets a sticker with the WWF seal. This limit for 2007/08 conforms to the voluntary self-regulation standards for the German automotive industry that are currently in effect. The limit value adopted here will be lowered in the future.

The wind energy park Te Apiti in New Zealand is a Gold Standard-certified project

Almost every environmental organization that promotes international climate protection has joined the Climate Action Network (CAN). Led by the WWF, and with the cooperation of scientists, they have jointly developed the "Gold Standard" for climate protection projects. It goes beyond Kyoto Protocol requirements. Gold Standard projects are either based exclusively on renewable energies (e.g., solar, wind, biomass or hydroelectric power), or ensure that employed energy can be used more effectively (e.g., with heat insulation). Additionally, the projects cannot adversely affect the local environment, biodiversity or soil quality. To make sure social considerations are kept in mind, the local population must also be involved in all aspects of planning for the projects.

"The traffic sector plays a key role in climate protection. Allianz’s ECOmotion concept is an important contribution toward emphasizing that point. Consciousness-raising and compensating for emissions are important first steps. But it doesn’t end there," explains Eberhard Brandes, managing director of WWF Germany. "The next step will be to promote environmentally friendly driving habits and environmentally friendly engine standards."

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Eberhard Brandes, managing director of WWF Germany