Friday, January 02, 2009

Munich Re Wants Climate Agreement

From their latest news release:

Catastrophe figures for 2008 confirm that climate agreement is urgently needed

A large number of tropical cyclones and the earthquake in Sichuan made 2008 one of the most devastating years on record. Although there was a drop in the number of loss-producing events compared with the previous year (from 960 to 750), individual catastrophes pushed up the numbers of victims and the losses appreciably. Throughout the world, more than 220,000 people died as a result of natural catastrophes this year. Overall losses totalled some US$ 200bn (2007: US$ 82bn) but were still below the record set in 2005 (US$ 232bn in current values). Insured losses in 2008 rose to US$ 45bn, about 50% higher than in the previous year.

Driven by high losses from weather-related natural catastrophes, 2008 was – on the basis of figures adjusted for inflation – the third most expensive year on record, exceeded only by the hurricane year of 2005 and by 1995, the year of the Kobe earthquake. Torsten Jeworrek, member of Munich Re's Board of Management: "This continues the long-term trend we have been observing. Climate change has already started and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes and ensuing natural catastrophes. These, in turn, generate greater and greater losses because the concentration of values in exposed areas, like regions on the coast, is also increasing further throughout the world." Munich Re is a world leader in terms of investigating risks from natural hazards of all kinds. "2008 has again shown how important it is for us to analyse risks like climate change in all their facets and to manage the business accordingly," said Jeworrek.

Munich Re is the largest re-insurer on the planet.


The Mound of Sound said...

It's becoming standard these days for the insurance industry to be the final arbiter of the global warming debate. They're the group that wants customers buying their policies but on terms that will continue to yield profits. That means they can't turn a blind eye to AGW without bankrupting themselves.

Who can operate without insurance? Perhaps only governments. As global warming-related losses increase so do the insurers' risk profiles, meaning less or no coverage for some and higher premiums for others.

In today's economy, any increased costs are far more difficult to pass on to consumers and industry is becoming acutely aware of the financial dimension of global warming.

Paul S said...

Someone should tell Munich Re that earthquakes aren't due to climate change. Their biggest loss of 2008 was from the Chinese earthquake.

". . . the Sichuan quake – which occurred in May – also produced the largest single overall loss of 2008. The total figure of US$ 85bn made it the second most expensive event of its kind after the Kobe earthquake . . ."

The Mound of Sound said...

Actually as someone living in an earthquake zone I'm not as cocksure about there being no linkage between earthquakes and climate change. Many top quake scientists are looking into the question. We know that quakes seem related to some phenomena such as El Nino events but no one has yet explained the apparent connection.

Paul S said...

"Actually as someone living in an earthquake zone I'm not as cocksure about there being no linkage between earthquakes and climate change."

LOL. Thanks for my first GW guffaw of the new year. The "link", if one even exists, is tenuous and completely unpublished in any peer-reviewed literature.

What little speculation there is relates to quakes in the polar regions; definitely not China.