In the first half of ’22, damage from climate disasters reached 65 billion $
(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Munich Re published the report on natural and climate disasters for the first half of 2022: the report shows an overall increase in disasters, costs and the number of deaths. The total losses of the first half of this year amounted to 65 billion dollars; just over half were insured. The highest figures concern the United States, but the extreme rainfall of several days and floods have brought to its knees Australia, whose insurance sector has lost at least 3.7 billion dollars. Drought, heat waves and fires have increased worldwide, especially in southern Europe July was in the grip of extreme heat.
Natural disasters – including climate disasters – resulted in 4,300 deaths in 2022, which is also on the increase compared to previous years.
Ernst Rauch of the Munich King commented on the past semester: “They can be individual events with different causes, but as a whole, one thing is becoming extremely clear: the powerful influence of climate change is becoming increasingly apparent! And the consequences for people around the world are becoming more and more palpable. The IPCC has made an even clearer diagnosis, stating that weather-related disasters such as heat waves, torrential rains or drought on a warmer Earth will increase both in frequency and intensity. Heat waves tend to last longer and bring more extreme temperatures. This will be different from region to region – in Europe the south will be hit hardest.“
Securing losses from climate disasters
The figure for losses due to natural disasters shows a slight overall decrease in the first part of 2022: extreme events, floods but also earthquakes and other natural disasters have resulted in losses of 65 billion dollars compared to 105 billion in 2021. In many cases, these are insured losses, which totaled 34 billion dollars and mainly concerned the United States.
Torsten Jeworrek, a member of the Board of Directors of Munich RE, reiterated the need for insurance companies to prepare for the new normality: “The picture of natural disasters in the first half of 2022 is dominated by weather-related disasters. Extreme tornadoes in the United States have caused billions of damage, parts of Australia’s east coast have been flooded and southern Europe has struggled with extreme heat, fires and drought. The recently published IPCC report warned of the need for insurers to adapt their loss patterns to adequately assess risk change. Loss prevention is a key component in mitigating the economic effects of climate change. It is therefore extremely worrying that insurance penetration in developing and emerging countries are stagnating well below 10%, and that there is much room for improvement even in the industrialized countries”.
Climate and natural disasters in the world
The most expensive disaster in terms of insurance losses was the extreme rainfall and flooding that devastated South Australia between the end of the summer and the end of the austral autumn: losses amounted to 6.6 billion dollars, of which 3.7 billion were insured. The last week of Australian February was the wettest since 1900 and in some areas, the flood peak has broken all records since 1893.
The Asia-Pacific region has already lost, in 2022, 22 billion dollars, of which only 8 were insured.
Half of the total losses due to natural disasters are concentrated in the United States: 28 billion dollars. The USA also holds the record for insured losses that, reaching 19 billion dollars, reaches almost two-thirds of the total. Here they insist above all climatic disasters, with waves of strong thunderstorms, that generate hurricanes: only these events have caused 22 billion dollars of losses (17 billion were insured).
Heat, fire and drought: Europe in the grip of extreme weather events
The beginning of summer has marked for Europe, especially in the South, the arrival of long and frequent heat waves that are bringing Europe to its knees. Italy, Spain and Portugal are the countries most exposed to water scarcity and fires.
The quantification of losses, in this case, is more complex because they are often measured in perspective, especially those due to heat and drought: Industrial losses due, for example, to the lack of cooling water emerge over time. What can be measured, however, are disasters such as the collapse of the Marmolada, the glacier on the highest mountain in the Dolomites that has not resisted the scorching temperatures of June and July, causing 11 victims.
The increase in temperatures due to climate change is affecting several areas of Europe, already far exceeding the +1.5°C, but the problem is not only the heat: in many countries in fact there have been significant losses related to climatic disasters occurred during the winter, like the February storms that wreaked havoc on the north-east and created hurricanes. The total losses for these phenomena, which mainly concerned Ireland, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Northern Germany and the Baltic coast, amounted to USD 5.2 billion.