Climate Change

The risks of Climate Change

Climate Change
In April 2012, Harvard Business Review listed the fi ve major issues that ”keep global leaders up at night” – one of them being Environmental issues, such as rising greenhouse gas emissions – and these emissions, according to many (not all), are causing serious climate changes, all over the world.

So, is climate change worrying leaders? Probably, yes. Are they responding to this, doing something? That remains to be seen.

The fact is, some sectors of society are actively working on this issue, trying to minimize its impacts as well as trying to create mechanisms that will reverse the tendency that has been on the rise for some years, decades now: the raising temperature of the planet, an impressive increase of natural catastrophes, both in severity as well as in geographical dispersion.

As countries are concerned, if the largest ones (thus more responsible for emissions) do not compromise, then little can be achieved. We know China is still struggling with economic growth and serious cases of pollution while the US, in the last years, have been modest in their interventions.

Curiously, even Barack Obama’s campaign was very parsimonious on this issue. Suddenly, Sandy happens, and on his victory speech president-elect Obama said that ”We want our children to live in an America that…isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet”. And the general idea, mentioned by several politicians, is that ”we have to do something about it”.

As we stand by, powerless, to retreating sea ice in the Artic and other environmental changes, worries about fracking’s(1) potential to cause earthquakes, mini-tornadoes in Lisbon, and fl oods that paralyze Indonesia and, most recently, seriously hit Mozambique, we wonder what is being done about this and, ultimately, who is in the position to do that something. As with most things in life, we can certainly all – and each of us - do something. Adapting John F. Kennedy’s famous quote(2) "…ask yourselves what you can do for the environment”.

If we take a moment to notice, many entities are doing something., and among them are insurers, reinsurers, adjusters, universities, associations, etc, etc.

At FULLCOVER, we certainly want to contribute to this discussion – the more you discuss it, the more opinions will come forward, the more alert people will be. That’s why, in this issue, we have included a "Climate Change” file, with very interesting articles that will help our readers to a better understanding of this complex issue.

In "SwissRe fosters climate resilience”, SwissRe experts give us an insight on a methodology to quantify local climate risks and give local and national decision-makers tools in order to develop an adaptation strategy – as well as stressing the importance of risk transferal measures, when appropriate. We also have a view of the underwriter of these risks, given to us by one of the largest insures in the world, AIG.

On the other extreme, Crawford give us the vision of the "crisis room” of a large, worldwide adjuster, when facing major disasters.

Last but not least, we give you a very interesting experience of a Portuguese Environmental Engineer, who is, in loco, at the Antarctica Climate Observatory, working with other scientists in order to better understand what is going on.

For us, this is just the beginning of the discussion. FULLCOVER will certainly be coming back to this issue. It is controversial, to begin with. It is invading our lives, through news of terrible storms and desolate people driven out of their homes.

It is there, when we hear the stormy winds outside our window and we see trees down. It is very real when we read that, in Beijing, the smog is so thick that flights have to be cancelled and people can only go out with face masks due to pollution levels in the air.

So, let’s share information about it. People informed are people better prepared. Let’s discuss it. From discussion comes light. Let’s look for solutions. Let’s compromise. Because, one thing is certain: climate change discussions are going to be around for some time! 

By Paula Rios, MDS Executive Director
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