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Archived stories from 2006

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Conference hot air contributes to global warming shock

Insurers and reinsurers may be inadvertently contributing to the growing level of storm losses wreaking havoc on their industry, according to a climate change expert.

Prof Brian Storme blowing his own trumpet,
and a friend's

Professor Brian Storme of Spokane University says that industry conferences generate as much CO2, the global warming gas, as many heavy industries. ?We not simply talking about the amount of CO2 generated by the air travel involved in getting executives to these pointless junkets, but also the amount of hot air generated by the speakers themselves,? the Professor said.

Professor Storme has calculated that even a small industry meeting such as the Bermuda World Insurance Forum can generate as much as 3,000 tonnes of CO2. The keynote speakers, usually chief executives and high profile industry names, produce 2,000 tonnes of ?hot air?, while delegate meetings on the conference sidelines make up 1,000 tonnes.

?My tests show that middle managers yakking in bars and restaurants produce a great deal of CO2, mostly bragging and comparing golf handicaps,? Professor Storme told Riskbitz. ?But when we started to measure the CO2 emitted on the speaker stand the needle went off the scale.?

Most experts now agree that global warming is being caused by the excessive amount of CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels. Many believe that global warming is behind the increasing number and severity of hurricanes. Last year was the worst on record for insurers in terms of storm losses, following a string of hurricanes that blasted through the US.

?It?s kind of ironic when executives spend so much time talking about climate change and the effect of catastrophes on the industry ? they don?t realise they are contributing to the problem,? Professor Storme said.

Following a five-year investigation, Professor Storm has compiled a league table of conferences ranked by the volume of CO2 each emits. He has also been able to rank industry figures according to the volume of CO2 emitted by individuals (see tables).

The well-attended gathering of US risk managers, the RIMS meeting, and also Monte Carlo?s reinsurance Rendez-vous are both among the biggest producers of CO2 on the events calendar. But the top position is held by the annual PCIAA meeting. ?We think the PCIAA attracts more CEOs to speak on panel discussions and where there?s a CEO there?s a spike in CO2 emissions. Put three or four on the stage together and they?re producing as much B.S. and CO2 as a major agrochemicals plant,? Professor Storme told Riskbitz. Environmentalists reacted to the research findings with calls for a licensing system to be imposed on conference organisers or speakers themselves. ?I can envisage a time when insurance CEOs have to buy CO2 permits from low emitters, such as actuaries, if they want to speak at a conference,? said Ben Muesli an alternative products trader with Carbon Bank. ?With a market?based system?? Cont p96


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