By Hannah Saggau and Pete Sikora
This op-ed was first published in the New York Daily News on December 1, 2021.
Negotiators at the Glasgow international climate conference recently ended yet another round of talks by failing to commit to cutting back their carbon emissions far enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Here at home, President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, if enacted, would include half a trillion dollars in clean energy investments, but even such historic sums are vastly short of the need — and the bill does not mandate reductions in climate-heating pollution.
Thankfully, state governments in the U.S. wield real power to act on climate, including a little-known, crucial lever: insurance regulation. After all, without insurance and financing, an oil, gas or coal company cannot dig a coal mine, frack a gas well or build a new oil pipeline.
Insurance companies find themselves situated in the eye of the climate change mega-storm. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, intense and unpredictable — and therefore more expensive and harder to insure — exposing deep vulnerabilities in the insurance industry. So far, most insurers have responded primarily by increasing rates for consumers or abandoning climate-vulnerable communities altogether…