New Launch to Break Ice on Climate Data Standards

The founder of global non-profit organisation launched to drive climate-friendly financial product innovation has said the time for theory is now over.

Gavin Starks, founder of Icebreaker One, (pic) which is backed by investment from a range of reinsurers and financial corporations has said the need for action was urgent.

Gavin Starks, founder of Icebreaker One, said: “The time for theory is over—we need rapid and meaningful action. The threat of climate change to the global economy is tangible, and the increase in catastrophic climate events is capable of bankrupting markets and even nation-states. We are already witnessing insurance in some areas becoming untenable – which is a genuine threat to communities and wider society. The time to act is now to help channel our abundance of capital to a carbon net-zero future. We are working with some of the most influential organisations in the world to plan policies and regulation to protect citizens, our environment and our economy; to unlock the power of unused and underutilised data to enable governments and business to respond effectively, responsibly and sustainably to the threats posed by the climate emergency. We encourage anyone with relevant interests to join us on this critical challenge of our time.”

Icebreaker One has been created to develop an open standard for data sharing that will stimulate climate-friendly financial product innovation and deliver new products in 2020.

Launched last week at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos last week, the new Standard for Environment, Risk and Insurance (SERI) has been created to design, test and develop financial products with Icebreaker One members ahead of COP26 in Glasgow later this year. Current SERI launch partners are Aon, Arup, Agvesto, Bird & Bird, Brit Insurance, Dais LLP, Lloyd’s Register Group and the University of Cambridge.

“As large catastrophic events occur with higher frequency, the UK’s insurance market is under pressure to evolve,” said a spokesperson for Icebreaker One. “SERI has the potential to transform the sector, enabling the insurance industry to innovate around climate change and the new kinds of risk it creates, by developing both current and new products to maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global insurance.”

Under the firm, a consortium of leading industry experts will work together to develop an open standard for data sharing. The aim is to provide the framework for an addressable, open marketplace, built around the needs of both the market and the new reality of climate change, enabling insurers to invest in demonstrably low-carbon financial products and services.

“Currently, valuable data – with the power to deliver public and private good – is kept submerged in ineffective data lakes,” said the company. “Icebreaker One will work with key stakeholders to overcome the legacy culture and business models that keep data ‘closed’ rather than being shared or open, to catalyse data access across the sector. The standard is also set to help mitigate the high transaction costs in time, process and money that stop asset owners, funders and insurers from working with data at scale, which in turn limits their ability to develop new models, products and solutions for the market.”

Volker Buscher, Chief Data Officer at Arup, said: “Responding to climate change and futureproofing the market is vital – and working with Gavin and senior industry figures is a big opportunity to make real-world data work harder, to evolve investment strategies, shine a light on inefficiencies and better understand risk. It’s of benefit to everyone that we create the working blueprint for the freer sharing and licensing of data-at-scale that can be a shot in the arm to climate-affected financial products and services.”