The insurance industry is one part of the financial sector taking an active interest in environmental and sustainability issues. Liability for clean-up costs is one risk, and climate change from global warming is seen as a potentially serious threat to the industry's financial stability. Economic damage from weather-related disasters exceeded US$200 000 million during 1990-96, four times the total losses for the previous decade (Worldwatch Institute 1997). In 1995 the insurance industry, aided by UNEP, produced a Statement of Environmental Commitment which promised - or warned of - greater attention to environmental risks in core activities such as loss prevention, product design, claims handling and asset management (UNEP 1998).
A number of environmental and social rating providers are offering rating systems based on eco-efficiency and other indicators. Pilot projects of a number of investment banks offering environmentally-screened funds in the market have achieved competitive, three year track records in profitability.