From: NY Times
Published January 1, 2009 10:09 AM

German Insurance Giant Cites Role of Climate Change in Record Payouts

Insurance is one of the business sectors that long has lobbied governments to take the lead in setting global rules to tackle climate change.

This week one of the biggest companies, Munich Re, a reinsurance group, renewed that campaign with a warning that natural catastrophes — apparently driven by climate change — are increasing in frequency, and it called for an international plan to halve emissions by 2050.

This year, adjusted for inflation, was the third most expensive year on record, exceeded only by 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, and by 1995, the year of the Kobe earthquake, according to Munich Re.

“Climate change has already started and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes and ensuing natural catastrophes,” said Torsten Jeworrek, a member of the board of management at Munich Re. “These, in turn, generate greater and greater losses because the concentration of values in exposed areas, like regions on the coast, is also increasing further throughout the world,” he said.


Earlier this year, a climate consultancy, Ecofys, carried out a study on behalf of environmental organization WWF and the insurance company Allianz,warning that none of the G8 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the United States — appeared to be on target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid the risk of catastrophic climate change.

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