Reinsurers Urge National Attention to Climate Change in U.S. Senate Environment Committee Hearing

Jul 23, 2013


After President Obama’s announcement last month on a comprehensive plan toward increasing the use of American clean energy sources to begin to slow the effects of climate change, among other goals, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a July 18, 2013 hearing entitled “Climate Change:  It’s Happening Now.”

Notably, among the two panels of scientists and climate change experts was Reinsurance Association of America (“RAA”) President Franklin Nutter, who spoke emphatically on the issues of extreme weather risk and property exposure, and the imperative of integrating climate change data into the insurance system.

“Property casualty insurers are more dependent on the vagaries of climate and weather than any other financial services sector,” Mr. Nutter testified.  “Within the insurance sector, reinsurers have the greatest financial stake in appropriate risk assessment.  The industry is at great financial peril if it does not understand global and regional climate impacts, variability and developing scientific assessment of a changing climate.”

On behalf of the RAA, he urged Congress to consider the following principles and actions:

  • Provide tax credits to individuals for specified mitigation and resiliency actions associated with extreme weather and climate change.
  • Incent communities to develop and implement mitigation and resiliency initiatives.
  • Reform the National Flood Insurance Program to reflect extreme weather and climate risk in its rates.
  • Apply federal standards to state/local building codes and incorporate climate and extreme weather risk into these standards.
  • Purchase or relocate properties near coastal or river areas at repeat risk.
  • Use nature to mitigate risk before and after extreme events.
  • Transfer development rights from coastal and river properties to areas inland (Strengthen the Coastal Barrier Resources Act)
  • Fund adequate remote sensing for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • Require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assess climate risk for all projects.
  • The federal government should lead by example: General Services Administration should assess its buildings and critical facilities in light of climate and extreme weather information.

“We can look out the window and see the evidence of climate change mounting around us,” Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (CA-D) said in her opening remarks.

To access complete hearing information, witness testimony and an archived Webcast, click here.

Hyperlinks to each witness’ testimony are provided below:

Panel 1

Dr. Heidi Cullen
Chief Climatologist
Climate Central

Mr. Frank Nutter
Reinsurance Association of America

Mr. KC Golden
Policy Director
Climate Solutions

Ms. Diana Furchtgott-Roth
Senior Fellow
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Dr. Robert P. Murphy
Senior Economist
Institute for Energy Research


Panel 2

Dr. Jennifer Francis
Research Professor
Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University

Dr. Scott Doney
Director, Ocean and Climate Change Institute
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Dr. Margaret Leinin
Executive Director, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr.
Professor, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research
University of Colorado

Dr. Roy Spencer
Principal Research Scientist IV
University of Alabama, Huntsville


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