Number of weather extremes a strong indicator of climate change

2010/11/08

Floods in central Europe, wildfires in Russia, widespread flooding in Pakistan. The number and scale of weather-related natural catastrophe losses in the first nine months of 2010 was exceptionally high. A month before the start of the world climate summit, Munich Re is drawing attention to the strong probability that there is a connection between the large number of weather extremes and climate change. The reinsurer has built up the world’s most comprehensive natural catastrophe database, which shows a marked increase in the number of weather-related events. For instance, globally, loss-related floods have more than tripled since 1980, and windstorm natural catastrophes more than doubled, with particularly heavy losses from Atlantic hurricanes. This rise cannot be explained without global warming. Worldwide, 2010 has been the warmest year since records began over 130 years ago.

Whilst climate change cannot be stopped, it can be kept within manageable proportions, thus avoiding the possibility that climate change tipping points will be reached. It is therefore absolutely essential for us to keep global climate change agreement firmly on the international political agenda. We also need to adapt, something that well-off, industrialised nations can do more easily than developing countries. Munich Re’s Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) helps developing countries take the necessary adaptation measures. Munich Re’s initiative for generating power from the desert, launched one year ago, marks a significant move towards renewable energies. In addition, innovative insurance solutions will be needed to bring about the necessary transformation within the energy sector, where investments are often only feasible with the backing of innovative insurance covers. Munich Re will be highlighting the issues involved in the run-up to the summit with information on natural catastrophes, climate change and possible solutions.

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