Swiss Re Corporate Solutions head of marine Patrizia Kern is urging more underwriters to join the fledgling Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance (PPMI) to help accelerate decarbonisation.

The initiative, launched last December, enables underwriters to establish key performance indicators and measure improvements in the environmental performance of their portfolios.

She said commitment to PPMI offers a more constructive contribution to decarbonisation than engaging in endless well-intentioned chatter, which she described as “greenwashing”.

“If we want to get away from the ‘blah blah blah’, then we need to start measuring what we are doing,” she told the Marine Insurance London 2022 conference in a panel debate on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

Kern has taken on decarbonisation as a personal goal and a way to repay the industry in which she has made her career. She said she is spending close to 40% of her working time on ESG issues: “I want to leave the industry in better shape than when I joined 27 years ago.”

She said making a commitment to decarbonisation is a strategic decision for each marine insurer, and that Swiss Re had made its policy towards emissions clear at an early stage.

“Swiss Re wants to be a first mover and has taken the decision to target net zero by 2050,” she added.

PPMI has been criticised because it addresses the overall performance of an underwriter’s marine portfolio of business, rather than tackling the poor performance of individual shipping companies.

Kern said she would be willing to open a discussion on improving emissions performance with shipowners that are behind the PPMI’s decarbonisation targets.

Create an incentive

However, she pointed out that the goal of PPMI is to encourage decarbonisation, not penalise shipowners.

“We are here to create an incentive for those who want to contribute to the transformation,” she said.

The seven founding members of the PPMI so far are Swiss Re, Scor, Victor Insurance, Gard, Hellenic Hull, Fidelis and Norwegian Hull Club.

Kern said a number of prospective members are poised to join. Those that sign up before 25 April will be recognised as founding members.