Co-op Insurance has become the first UK insurer to launch a new carbon offset programme, which will support carbon reduction projects in developing countries.
The insurer will offset 10% of its new customers’ motor and home carbon emissions for the first year of their policy by backing carbon reduction projects in Ghana and Kenya.
The scheme focuses on two specific areas. For each motor policy it will offset 10% of customers’ cars carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the first year by supporting the provision of cookstoves in Ghana, which are up to 50% more efficient than the stoves they replace.
Other cooking methods, such as open burning of wood, coal and animal dung, cause more indoor pollution and release more greenhouse gases.
For each home policy, Co-op Insurance will offset 10% of customers’ home CO2 emissions in the first year by buying water filters, to offer safe drinking water to families in Kenya. Produced by LifeStraw, the filters save energy because they do not require electricity or boiled water.
The initiative will help protect families from waterborne diseases, the third leading cause of death among children and adults in Kenya.
Co-op Insurance forms part of the Co-operative Group, which sources 99% of its electricity from renewables. The Co-op has reduced its direct carbon footprint by 43% since 2006.
Mark Summerfield, chief executive of Co-op Insurance, said: “We were one of the first businesses to recognise and respond to the impacts of climate change, since then we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions from our operations, purchased renewable electricity and have offset more than a million tonnes of carbon since we first introduced carbon offsetting on our products 10 years ago.
“We are now offering a carbon offset as standard on all home and motor policies in the first year, at no extra cost to our customers, and are making sure to choose offset projects that are checked to a stringent standard and have added benefits in the developing world, whether that’s contributing to the local economy, protecting people’s health, or reducing deforestation.”
Co-op Insurance is also running an Ethical Policy for investment of customers’ insurance premiums taking into account issues such as human rights and international development, animal welfare and impact on environment.
Furthermore, Co-op Insurance has been offsetting customer emissions through its Ecoinsurance motor policy, enabling customers to offset a total of more than one million tonnes of CO2 to date. With the new programme, the insurer will have a carbon offset as standard on all new home and motor policies purchased directly through Co-op Insurance.
Robert Stevens, head of partnerships at Climate Care, said: “We are proud to expand our long-standing partnership with the Co-op – a business that continues to lead the way by placing values and ethics at the very core of its purpose.
“This new, ground-breaking offer not only enables Co-op Insurance customers to offset their carbon emissions, it will improve health and livelihoods in low-income communities across Africa.”