Michèle Lacroix is head of the group investment office at Scor, where she is in charge of the French reinsurer's portfolio monitoring and of its ESG investment strategy.
Since 2014, she has been at the heart of Scor's sustainable approach, implementing processes for measuring and evaluating the group's €20bn investment portfolio, both in terms of its solvency and its contribution to tackling challenges such as climate change.
She is a member of the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance at the European Commission and chair of the project task force on climate-related reporting at Efrag, the European accounting standards advisory body. She is also a member of the French Climate and Sustainable Finance Commission at the Autorité des Marchés Financiers.
She has contributed to many other efforts to orient capital flows towards a more sustainable world and improve understanding of climate risk, including at French insurance association FFA where she helped produce a guide on how to assess climate risks in investment portfolios.
What inspired you to work on climate change issues?
It has been a combination of my own convictions and what has happened to me in life. At school, I remember we had classes on how to predict the weather and I was just fascinated by that.
At Scor, we discus climate risk regularly and I have a lot of experts that are able to explain the complexity of the topic.
It also echoes with my own values: we need to protect the people on the planet and being a responsible investor should be our universal purpose.
What are your work priorities right now?
We have been advocating for years, but now it's time to take action. We need to shift our portfolio to something which is aligned with the 2°C scenario. That's the reason we have established the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, to figure out how we become carbon neutral by 2050 and how we finance a portfolio which is compatible with the 2°C scenario.
We need to bring awareness to the top management, but also to each and any investor, even the smallest. It's a collective effort and if only the biggest act and the smallest are still lagging behind, we will never be able to reach the target. We are looking to move faster, with a pragmatic approach, and get everyone on board.
Tell me one step the insurance industry needs to take, to improve its response to climate change?
It's time to stop financing the entire economy. We need to focus on the world we want to live in. This includes financing the transition to a sustainable world; it's not only financing 'green'.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic we can avoid the worst effects of climate change?
What is the worst?! I'm afraid that it's too late to reach the 2°C scenario and the longer we wait, the steeper the decrease [in emissions] will have to be.
Maybe we will avoid six or seven degrees [of warming]. I'm not optimistic at all. But it's not because I'm not optimistic that I will give up, because whatever we do is better than doing nothing.
What are you doing personally to reduce your climate impact?
It's not a revolution, it's an evolution, taking one step further every day. So for years I have been reducing my consumption and trying to move towards frugality - and it's tough, believe me. I recycle, I avoid waste as much as possible and I offset my personal travel (my professional travel is already offset by the company). Once you begin to believe this is how you should live, the actions come naturally.