Year founded: 1863
Revenue: $24 Billion
Employees: 10,500Developing financial tools to deal with the risks of climate change.
Swiss Re's main product is insurance for insurers, so its products never come near a smokestack. And Swiss reinsurance companies are not exactly known for boldness. Even so, Swiss Re has been way ahead of the pack on climate change, warning as early as 1994 about the bottom-line threat in the form of higher claims from storms and other weather-related disasters.
In addition, Swiss Re has pioneered products like weather-based derivatives to hedge these risks. Buyers can bet on future heat waves or cold snaps with puts and calls on specific periods of time and temperatures, much as conventional options have a preset strike price for a stock. So a farmer in India might be able to buy insurance from a local insurer in case the usual monsoon rains fail to arrive or, conversely, his fields are flooded. Swiss Re was also among the early supporters of the Chicago Climate Exchange, an emerging hub for traders in derivatives linked to carbon emissions. --Nelson D. Schwartz