Fostering discussion on climate change risks

Weather related events have a huge impact on the global economy, and that cost is growing steadily. Over the last 40 years global insured losses from climate-related disasters have jumped from an annual USD 5 billion to approximately USD 60 billion in 2011.

Swiss Re believes that climate change will exacerbate the weather impacts we have seen in recent years and that action needs to be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare society for these increasing risks.

On Tuesday 21 August 2012, Swiss Re and The Climate Group hosted a media roundtable in New York City aimed at increasing awareness around climate related threats but also the solutions the insurance industry can offer to counter these.

Megan Linkin, Natural Hazards Expert, Swiss Re, said: "We are already vulnerable to the impacts of weather related natural catastrophes. There is evidence of that all around the world. We expect climate change to compound the problems we are already experiencing so the time to act is now."

Amy Davidsen, Executive Director, The Climate Group described the world as "being at a critical crossroads." She stated that by 2050 there are expected to be nine billion people on the planet with many of them at risk from climate related risks. She added: "Science tells us that to avoid the worst social and economic impacts we have to address climate change."

Swiss Re firmly believes that tackling climate change involves two fundamental approaches: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation consists of reducing global carbon emissions in order to prevent further temperature increases around the world. However, even if all carbon emissions were stopped immediately, the world's climate would continue to change for a considerable time.

Mark Way, Head Sustainability for Swiss Re in the Americas said: "In almost all cases society picks up a large portion of the costs involved with climate related weather events. Over the last ten years about 53% of the loss in the developed world has been covered by insurance. In the developing world this figure is less than 7%. This underlines the need to expand the use of insurance to help manage climate risk and make society more resilient to severe weather."

Through its Global Partnerships unit Swiss Re offers innovative solutions that help communities better cope with floods, droughts and severe storms which will go a long way to helping them recover from extreme weather events and to preparing them for a future where these events are more common.

Nikhil da Victoria Lobo, Senior Client Manager with Swiss Re's Global Partnerships unit said: "When people have access to insurance they recover stronger and faster than people who don't. Our products cannot prevent climate change but they give people the financial security and breathing room to withstand the impact."

Published 23 August 2012

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