A Devon-based ethical insurance provider has just achieved the unusual landmark of giving £1m of its income to a Trust promoting sustainability projects.
Mathew Criddle founded the company in 1993 when the environmental movement in business was in its infancy.
Mr. Criddle established Naturesave as an ethical insurance provider to encourage the industry to support sustainable developments.
“I realised that, although the insurance industry was not taking environmental issues seriously, it would be in the front line in dealing with the consequences of environmental disasters.
At the same time, it possesses an almost unparalleled potential to reduce the impact of climate change by actively promoting the production and consumption of sustainable alternatives to energy derived from fossil fuels.
I also wanted to develop a sustainable business model that reflected the growing demand by individuals and organisations for greener and more ethical insurance.”
Mathew Criddle, founder Naturesave
Naturesave provides insurance to individuals, businesses, charitable organisations, eco – houses, and renewable energy systems.
It also provides specialist insurance services to important green sectors of the economy.
I asked Mr Criddle how can the insurance industry actively help the UK combat the climate crisis and achieve environmental sustainability?
The insurance industry has enormous influence and considerable potential in tackling the climate and ecological crisis.
This potential comes from two key areas.
The first relates to where the industry invests it premiums. At present, the insurance industry, as a whole, is one of the worlds biggest investors in fossil fuels.
Research by Ceres has found that the largest U.S and European insurers have close to 600 billion dollars in fossil fuels.
Whilst a number are setting targets to divest of these investments there is still so much change needed.
This is particularly pertinent when you consider that insurers are ‘risk managers’ who are paid a premium to mitigate future risks for individuals and businesses.
We now have incontrovertible evidence that these investments in coal, oil and gas, if maintained, will create considerable future risks.
These risks, manifest themselves in the form of extreme weather events and economic shocks all clearly predicted by the latest science.
This puts the insurance industry itself at risk, as it will be required to pay out for the increasing incidents of flooding, wildfires and drought etc.
Furthermore, once society decides no more fossil fuels can be extracted, investors holding such assets are themselves at risk as fossil fuel investments could loose their value overnight – making them stranded assets.
The second area the insurance industry has considerable influence, relates to its role in the insurance in fossil fuel extraction.
This is particular to the insurance industry and is what, to us at Naturesave, gives the industry its unique status when it comes to potential to tackle climate change.
Without insurance, it is extremely unlikely that any new coal mines, oil pipelines or power plants could ever be built.
Without insurance, existing fossil fuel assets would also have to be phased out.
Like many elements of our society, fossil fuels cannot operate without insurance.
A relevant report here is the one by the International Energy Agency.
Our key aim for the future is to constructively demonstrate to the insurance industry that more radical change is needed.
Consumers have become hugely more environmentally aware, and there is a growing dissatisfaction against corporations who knowingly support the fossil fuel industry.
This awareness is more advanced in banking and finance (pensions and investments).
The general insurance industry has yet to experience this on quite the same scale, however it is on the horizon.
We believe that to avoid a backlash the big insurance brands need to move (more) quickly, particularly due to their added potential for making big changes, and their own exposure.
The key changes we would like to see are;
1. Divest from fossil fuels into renewable energy and ecological recovery
2. Stop insuring fossil fuel extraction – particularly coal – which is the most carbon – intensive and has the added issue of atmospheric pollution.Mathew Criddle founder, Naturesave
How Naturesave is helping to tackle the climate crisis
From the outset, the company has donated 10% of its household and travel insurance premiums to its charity, the Naturesave Trust.
The Trust provides grants between £500 and £5,000 to small-scale, grassroots environmental, sustainability, and conservation projects, organisations, and charities in the UK.
Alongside grant-funding, an additional Trust program provides professional advice to small and medium-sized companies that want to make their trading practices more sustainable. This is based on the Bioregional’s One Planet Living Framework.
Sustainability is at the forefront of Naturesave ethos and has won various awards, most notably the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development.
The No-Fly policy
In 2011, Naturesave established a sustainability policy of encouraging staff to choose low carbon holiday travel. They do this by offering an additional paid holiday for those who opt not to fly.
The company awards staff up to four days extra holidays per annum for choosing to travel overland instead of flying.
They recognise their responsibility as an employer and therefore can help their employees to make greener choices.
For that same reason, they became a founder member of the Climate Perks initiative, created by environmental charity Possible. This policy was incorporated into the Climate Perks Initiative, and leading eco-conscious organisations are now adopting it.
Naturesave are happy to talk to any employer who is interested in implementing such a scheme.
They are prepared to share their policy documents and experience in administering such a policy.
Solar Bee Project
This project is funded by The Naturesave Trust.
The Solar Bee Project is seeking to prove the efficacy of a new type of beehive, a thermosolar hive, that helps tackle the Varroa parasite.
The Varroa are a major problem for bee populations and spreading across the world.
The only way to treat the pest is via chemicals, which end up in our honey.
Naturesave Trust have pairs of solar thermal hives placed at five Community Solar Farms across the country. TheTrust hopes to present their findings in two year’s time.
They chose community solar farms to help promote the idea that these sites don’t just generate clean energy but can also be havens for wildlife.
You can find more about the Naturesave Insurance and their sustainability projects here: www.naturesave.co.uk
Images courtesy of Naturesave.