Sustainable future

The risks and opportunities of a changing climate are of critical importance to our business and stakeholders

Canada’s weather-related insurance claims hit a record $4.9 billion last year driven by wildfires in Fort McMurray, ice storms in southern Ontario, floods in Atlantic Canada and many other climate-related events.

We aim to actively accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy and proactively improve society’s resilience to extreme weather.

RSA's Igor Silence, group portfolio manager, stands in front of an animation from the Sustainable Future film, part of our Making Things Better Together 2016 online Corporate Report. Copyright RSA Play video
Igor Silence, RSA's group portfolio manager for construction and engineering, describes what "Sustainable Future" means to us

Why is it important?

Our actions are guided by major sustainability issues, including:

  • Severe weather events: insurers paid out around $50 billion for natural disaster claims last year, double the amount paid out in 2015.
  • Global warming: average temperatures are widely predicted to rise above 2°C, the internationally-agreed target for limiting climate change, during the 21st century. At the Paris climate conference (COP21), 195 countries adopted the first ever universal, legally-binding global climate deal.
  • Resource scarcity: by 2030, the world will need 50% more energy and 35% more food than it does today.

How do we tackle the issue?

Our approach to climate change is three-fold:

  • Reducing our own contribution to climate change and promoting sustainable working practices amongst employees and suppliers in order to achieve our carbon reduction target of cutting emissions by 12% per person from a 2015 baseline by 2018;
  • Supporting our customers to respond to changing environmental risks and opportunities by sharing our risk management expertise, thus helping them proactively manage their risks to severe weather events and build resilience; and
  • Insuring renewable energy projects across the world, reducing the risks of such ventures and therefore driving down the costs of developing these assets.

Reducing our own emissions

We have a group carbon reduction target to reduce our emissions by 12% per person by 2018 from a 2015 baseline.

To achieve this, our CR representatives in each country collaborate with facility managers, procurement, finance, our product lines and travel to identify and deliver projects that generate environmental improvements.

In our UK offices, we are developing and implementing an Energy Management System in line with the international standard ISO 50001 which will set site-specific energy reduction targets. Across the group, we are encouraging our customers to move to online policies.

Supporting our customers

We have been dealing with severe weather events for more than 300 years and, over this time, have built up a wealth of knowledge about how to reduce the associated risks. In general, we offer a before, during and after claims proposition to our customers:

Before: we advise customers of their risks at the time of policy purchase and provide recommendations for risk management. For example, our Irish brand,, provides tips on flood prevention on the Home Advice Centre.

During: we support our customers throughout their claim, getting them back on their feet as quickly as possible. We ensure that we are proactive and pragmatic and keep all parties fully informed. We recommend energy efficient replacements of damaged goods or flood resilient materials wherever possible.

After: we continue to make sure that our customers reduce their risks by taking practical action, such as alerting them about severe weather warnings before they hit.

Every RSA business customer can benefit from our risk management services. Working together, we design and deliver risk improvement reports that meet each customer’s specific requirements. We know that getting things done in a busy world needs reliable data with easy, real-time access.

Our web-based application, RSAred, delivers this by allowing customers to manage risk engineering data such as risk improvement tracking, risk profiling and modelling and customer portfolio analysis, all in real-time. RSAred won the Insurance Software Award at the Commercial Insurance Awards 2016 and was shortlisted for Technological Innovation of the Year at the European Risk Management Awards in 2016.

Insuring renewable energy

We continue to be a leading insurer of renewable energy and are evaluating the risks of new technologies and prototypes to expand our expertise in this area. Through our knowledge of these products, we are reducing the risks and costs associated with renewable energy and helping support the transition to a lower carbon future.

Sustainable Future

Reducing our carbon emissions

In 2016 we reduced our carbon emissions by 15% per person

Our environmental performance

Key Environmental Data   2016 2015 2014
Greenhouse gas emissions (tCO2e) Scope 1  3,336 6,115 12,279
  Scope 2  12,364 17,275 24,717
  Scope 3 11,469 15,907 16,376
      Business Travel  9,238 13,050  
  TOTAL (gross) 27,170 39,297 53,372
  Gross tCO2e/FTE 1.87 2.20 2.37


The emissions for 2015 and 2016 have been calculated using a different organisational scope to previous years, reporting all sources of emissions from operations with 50 or more full time equivalent (FTE) employees. In previous years, emissions from offices with less than 50 employees were estimated, but these have been removed from the scope of the 2015 and 2016 reported emissions. Previously, some Scope 3 emissions were misreported as Scope 1 emissions. This has resulted in a significant reduction in Scope 1 emissions from 2014–2015 and again in 2015–2016. Due to these changes, we restated our baseline year as 2015 for our carbon reduction target and amended our target accordingly.

Selected data for 2016 has been independently assured by PwC in accordance with ISAE 3000 (Revised) and ISAE 3410. For further information, please refer to our reporting criteria (PDF) and PwC’s assurance opinion (PDF). 

Scope 1: Emissions from the Group’s sources that are controlled by us, including the combustion of fuel, company owned vehicles and the operation of our facilities.

Scope 2: Emissions from the consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.

Scope 3: Emissions from non-owned sources that are related to the Group’s activities, including business travel and the use of water, paper and waste generated.

Business travel: Emissions from flights, trains, taxis, hotels and vehicles not owned by the organisation. This has been separately assured and reported in 2015 and 2016.

Methodology: Our disclosures cover all sources of greenhouse gas emissions as required by the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013, aligning to our financial control boundaries and including all emissions from operations with 50 or more full time equivalent employees, covering the period 1st January 2016 – 31st December 2016.

Where data is not provided by the operating entity, estimates have been provided based on relative calculations against other businesses within the company. Our reporting has been carried out with consideration to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute’s (WBCSD/WRI) Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, together with the latest emissions factors from recognised public sources including, but not limited to Department of Environment and Rural Affairs, the International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Association, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


We monitor our performance in each strategy area against a series of defined targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

Targets KPI
By 2018, we will reduce our carbon emissions by 12% per employee from a 2015 baseline KPI 1: Tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent presented as both actual (tCO2e) and per employee (tCO2e/FTE)
Deliver at least one awareness/support campaign each year in each core region we operate to support our customers adapt to climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions KPI 2: Number of awareness/support campaigns 

Our progress

By 2018, we aimed to cut carbon emissions by 12% per person against a 2015 baseline. We are proud to have reached this target two years ahead of time. In 2016, we achieved a 15% reduction thanks to a leaner, global business model, the outsourcing of UK engineers and measures such as energy efficient installations.

This year (2017), we will set a new carbon reduction target.

We have run seven campaigns across our Group to help our customers adapt to climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Future plans

We will continue to collaborate with customers and brokers to raise awareness of our changing climate. Through our products and services, we will support customers to reduce their own carbon contribution.

We continue to review our property footprint across the Group. We seek to both rationalise the spaces that we occupy and support opportunities for employees to reduce travel through home and flexible working. In the UK, we are managing our spaces more efficiently in ways which reduce our environmental impact. We are also developing and implementing an Energy Management System, designed to ISO 50001, that limits our carbon emissions.

Our actions inside our workplaces can also help reduce carbon emissions. We continuously raise awareness of more sustainable working practices like double-sided printing, recycling and switching off electrical equipment. We will continue to mark World Environment Day in many of our offices to demonstrate how our colleagues can help meet our carbon reduction target and protect our environment.

2016 highlights

Investing in innovative technology

We are proud to be a global leader of renewable energy insurance.

Read more

Storm and flood help

Practical advice to reduce damage

Read more