Monday, May 18, 2009

Floods, fires to test EU climate response - report

Pete Harrison in Reuters: Flash floods, wildfires and heatwaves brought on by climate change could test Europe's ability to insure against and respond to natural disasters, a new report warns. …The report warned that flood risk in many eastern European states has exceeded 1 percent of gross domestic product. "In some events, national authorities have had severe fiscal problems in financing the recovery process," it said. Even wealthier nations can struggle to cope with the huge cost, the report added, citing 2002 floods in Austria that led to a fiscal crisis that ultimately triggered new elections and a change in the balance of power.

The report warns of a 15 percent risk that Europe's disaster compensation scheme -- the EU Solidarity Fund -- could become overwhelmed with claims above its annual resources of 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion). To counter that danger, the scheme could be altered to become a source of reinsurance or capital for national disaster insurance schemes, it recommended.

"What this report shows is that we had better get prepared by taking the political decisions, such as making sure the solidarity fund can provide help in the dimensions needed," said ADAM project manager Henry Neufeldt. Around 44 percent of calls on the solidarity fund are for floods and 27 percent for wildfires, he added. The fund has not previously covered drought damage….

The Brixental bridge in W├Ârgl, Austria at high water in 2005, shot by Thom16 (I think) , Wikimedia Commons

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