Friday, December 12, 2008

Insuring the climate

Mail & Guardian (South Africa): The insurance industry has demanded that political leaders create a clear climate-change adaptation framework, which would help insurers calculate this risk when developing future policies. The insurance industry’s push was one of the major developments to come out of the United Nations’ two week climate change conference in Poland. The insurers said this week that they could not be expected to bear the brunt of financing the damage caused by climate change.

Delegates are gathered to work on a climate-change deal, expected to be concluded next year in Copenhagen, on how curb carbon dioxide emissions to prevent climate change.

The industry called for measures to strengthen climate change adaptation frameworks where funds are put aside to help the world cope with the effects of climate change -- so that insurers could play a role in reducing the climate risks faced by people around the world.

UN climate chief, Yvo de Boer, said that the insurance industry was critical in any deal. De Boer said the delegations were looking at the possibility of incorporating insurance schemes into next year’s expected deal in Copenhagen. One of the proposals was to give lower premiums to countries which take steps to reduce the risks of major climate disasters -- such as building sea barriers and stronger homes that could better withstand storms.

Insurers already estimate that annual insurance losses from wind storms could increase by two-thirds this century. The chances of very hot summers in Europe, such as in 2003 when at least 22 000 people died of heat stroke, could increase. In 2005, $83-billion was paid in insurance claims for natural disasters, a record year that saw Katrina and other hurricanes devastate southern coastal US cities....

Tree fallen on power lines on Northup Way in Seattle's Bellevue suburb.

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