One of the key questions facing carriers as they place greater focus on their ESG responsibilities is how they can play a broader role in helping drive the sustainable transformation of the economy.
One innovative launch over the past month has been the Axa Climate School, a new training and education offering from the European insurer.
While launching a training business may at first appear an unusual move for an insurance company, Antoine Denoix, CEO of Axa Climate, says educating employees is central to the company’s mission.
“While Axa is not a usual suspect in the training business, we took it as an opportunity to start with a blank page,” he said.
Denoix said the objective of the school, which is open to all companies and not just Axa employees, was to leverage the willingness of employees to take action and in turn serve as a transformation tool for companies.
The goal is to provide a tool for human resources and sustainability departments to inform and train all employees to achieve the sustainable transformation of their profession.
The training programme is structured around two key areas: science and action.
The science component is focused on building understanding of climate change, natural resources, biodiversity and the impact it has on our lives. The programme includes six in-depth courses organised around 40 short videos and quizzes.
The action component allows participants to plan out their roadmap to adaptation, with a further 10 courses per profession, organised around 50 short videos and quizzes. Companies are also able to customise the programme with business-specific content.
“We really want the Climate School to be a training and also a transformation tool for companies,” Denoix said.
“We are leveraging employees’ willingness to take action – employees are often one step ahead of their companies.
“As an insurer, we understand the interconnection between biodiversity, climate and health which helps us bridge the gap between science and business impact.
“To be relevant the Climate School will need to speak to every job role. We are action driven, and want to take action day by day, job role by job role.”
Last month also saw Axa draw praise from KBW, with the carrier recognised for its commitment on climate issues and clear disclosures related to sustainability.
In its first ranking of insurers’ commitment to ESG and sustainability within investment processes, KBW found Axa ranked highest among large-cap European insurers.
KBW said Axa had looked at its entire value chain in its effort to limit the impact on climate, applying ESG criteria to most of its investment portfolio.
“Axa’s engagement framework targets climate initiatives ranging from limiting carbon emissions to introducing an executive pay mechanism linked to climate objectives,” KBW said.
“The company has a good history in terms of rankings from third parties and we believe the route highlighted is one of the most promising for the insurance sector and a benchmark.”
Green bonds placed
Axa also placed €1bn ($1.2bn) of subordinated green bonds in April, issued under the group’s newly established Sustainability Bond Framework.
The issuance forms part of the climate strategy launched by the insurer in 2019, which set out an ambition to double its green investment target to €24bn by 2023. With this issuance, Axa further increased its green investment target to €25bn.
The carrier reported that investor demand was strong with more than 100 institutional investors participating, mainly asset managers, insurers and pension funds across Europe.