Reinsurance giant Munich Re has cited climate change as a major factor in the “marked increase” in worldwide weather-related natural disasters in the first nine months of the year.
The conclusion comes as the group puts global insurance losses due to weather-related natural catastrophes at $18 billion for the months January to September, while the bill for overall losses has come in at more than $65 billion.
Events such as severe flooding in Pakistan and wildfires in Russia contributed to the 725 weather-related natural hazard events recorded by Munich Re in the first nine months of the year – the second-highest figure recorded for this period since 1980. By contrast, 850 events were recorded for the whole of 2009.
The group also recorded some 21,000 lost lives in the nine-month period, a figure more than double the 10,000 lives lost last year.
At $18 billion year to date, insured losses for 2010 so far are edging close to 2009’s full-year insured loss total of $22 billion. However, they remain below the 10-year average of $36 billion in insured losses as at the end of 2009.
While population growth, migration patterns and rising property values are also factors behind the increase in the losses, Munich Re said: “It would seem that the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change.”
“The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge as set out in the Fourth IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Assessment Report,” said the reinsurer.
Earlier this year the group warned of the threat climate change poses in worsening natural disasters.
Munich Re – which does not normally release nine-month data, but announced the numbers in the lead-up to the UN’s climate talks scheduled to begin at the end of November – noted both the scale and the “exceptionally high” number of weather-related natural catastrophes this year to date. The group said the events emphasise “the probability of a link between the increasing number of weather extremes and climate change”.
Meanwhile Lloyd’s of London is also feeling the squeeze from the disaster-wracked first half, with the insurer posting a 21% increase in net incurred claims to £5.4 billion ($8.5 billion) in its interim report, in the wake of the Chilean earthquake and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The insurer posted a before-tax profit of £628 million, down 52% year on year.
By. Charlotte Dudley
Source: Environmental Finance