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Insurers' role in enhancing development and utilization of environmentally sound technologies: a case study of Nordic insurers

Journal of Cleaner Production
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.09.043
  • Environmentally Sound Technology
  • Non-Life Insurers
  • Development
  • Utilization
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Abstract During the last decades numerous environmental problems have been exacerbated, and in some cases created. Traditionally, such problems have been addressed through environmentally sound technologies. The diffusion of such technologies has, however, been slow, where the focus has primarily been on high-polluting sectors. This paper explores the environmental actions of a relatively low-polluting sector, the insurer industry, in regards to environmentally sound technologies, by schematizing the concept of environmentally sound technologies as it is defined in Agenda 21. The Agenda 21 definition is critical when discussing environmentally sound technologies, as typologies of academic scholars are defined from the perspective of manufacturers ignoring the role of relatively low-polluting sectors when dealing with environmental issues. Five focus points from a climate change statement issued by the Nordic insurance industry are then integrated into the schematic framework. Case study examples from 16 Nordic insurance companies and secondary data of insurers' activities are used to illustrate insurers' role in enhancing development and utilization of environmentally sound technologies. Although the insurance industry offers many examples of its role in the development and utilization of environmentally sound technologies, this paper highlights the following points (1) there are still areas for improvements, (2) there is a large capacity that could be utilized, and (3) business opportunities are expected to increase once climate change consequences become more apparent. Due to the slow uptake of environmentally sound technologies, it is important to strengthen the focus on the role and obligation of low-polluting sectors as a part of the supporting infrastructure dealing with environmental sustainability issues. This paper shows the potential of opportunities arising from the synergies between environmentally sound technologies and finance and service providers to address such issues.

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