Former California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has joined Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment to examine financial risks caused by climate change.
Specifically, his work will focus on how climate change affects the insurance and other financial sectors—and how public policy can help them better identify, evaluate, and address the risks involved. Jones will also explore the role that the financial sector should play in aligning capital investments with the Paris Agreement’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, and how financial regulators can mitigate climate-related risks.
In addition to his position with CLEE, Jones has been appointed a distinguished fellow with the ClimateWorks Foundation and senior director for environmental and social risk with The Nature Conservancy.
“We are delighted that Dave Jones is bringing his expertise in these crucial regulatory and legal matters to Berkeley Law,” says Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. “He has been a pioneer in California government, and we look forward to his continuing efforts to transition the financial sector to a low-risk, sustainable future as part of the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.”
Jones comes to the center after two successful terms as California’s insurance commissioner, highlighted by his pioneering efforts to address climate change and the dangers it poses to the insurance sector. Under his leadership, the Department of Insurance launched the Climate Risk Carbon Initiative, a first-of-its-kind effort requiring major insurers to disclose their fossil fuel investments and requesting that they divest from thermal coal enterprises.
He also led groundbreaking analyses of how different climate scenarios would create risk for insurers’ investment portfolios totaling trillions of dollars. In addition, he was a founding chairperson of the Sustainable Insurance Forum, a working group of insurance regulators from across the globe developing best supervisory practices to address climate risk.
“As we are experiencing now the very real and damaging impacts of climate change in California and elsewhere, I look forward to drawing on my experience … to continue to develop effective public policy and private sector options for decision-makers from around the globe and here in California,” Jones says.
His tenure as insurance commissioner coincided with unprecedented destruction from the 2015, 2017, and 2018 California wildfires. Those fires resulted in record levels of deaths, destruction, insurance claims, and challenges for California residents, businesses, and insurers.
In response, Jones’ office developed and helped shepherd to passage a suite of insurance industry reform legislation last year designed to increase consumer protections and resiliency.
He also collaborated with CLEE on the September 2018 report Trial by Fire and a June 2018 symposium, “Insuring California in a Changing Climate.”
Jones will take part in a free webinar on these issues Wednesday, March 27, from 10 to 11 AM. Participants will have an opportunity to ask him about his climate-related work at the Department of Insurance and his views on California’s risks and opportunities going forward.
“We are thrilled that Dave is joining CLEE,” says Jordan Diamond ’08, the center’s executive director. “CLEE is focused on enabling the transition to a sustainable future for all, and Dave’s work on financial sector risk is a critical piece of making that a reality. His rich experience at the state and local level makes him uniquely qualified to help build this into a pivotal new initiative.”