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Conferences & lectures

Mathieu Charbonneau: Insuring Risks, Capitalizing Climate

The contradictory roles of the insurance industry in the era of climate change

Date & time

Monday, March 23, 2020
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.


Mathieu Charbonneau


This event is free


Chris Hurl


Henry F. Hall Building
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W. Room H-1120

Wheelchair accessible


The insurance industry occupies a contradictory position in the era of climate change. On the one side, private insurers capitalize on climate risks by profiting from flood coverage included in personal property insurance and business insurance. Accordingly, the insurance industry is worried that climate change is putting the profitability of some of its major business lines at risk.

On the other side, the insurance industry profits from car insurance, a climate change-contributing insurance product, and insurers are among the main institutional investors, exerting considerable power, as shareholders, over the governance of the fossil fuel industry and extraction infrastructures.

Following a discussion on this contradictory role, Mathieu Charbonneau will first present the financial market responses private insurers resort to in facing climate risks. He will then discuss how the insurance industry proposes policy responses to climate risk, consisting in risk skimming and the offloading of climate adaptation efforts onto consumers, governments and society.

Charbonneau will also present recent fossil fuel divestment campaigns from NGOs and supply-side public policies seeking an effective, fast transition to a low-carbon economy. Finally, he will conclude by exploring some implications of the private insurance of climate risks for a theory of value.

This event is part of the Sociology and Anthropology Speakers Series in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Thanks to the Risk Research Working Group and the Speculative Life Cluster for their generous financial contributions toward the sponsorship of this lecture.

About Mathieu Charbonneau

Mathieu Charbonneau is a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia’s Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, as well as a research associate at the Global Strategy Lab at the University of Ottawa and York University, and the Center for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa. He holds a PhD from Carleton University and Université Paris-Sorbonne.

His research focuses on the perspective of institutional economic sociology and public policy, climate change and the insurance industry, the governance of organ donation and transplant, workers compensation, the cyber-insurance market, and prescription drug insurance.

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