3 September 2013News

Global warming will drive increase in coastal flooding

In its recently published report, Global warming: the evolving risk landscape Guy Carpenter argues that climate change is an “established scientific fact” that will increase the threat posed by coastal flooding.

The report said that there had been considerable “noise” around the debate, which had crowded out the real issue: how to cope with rising sea levels and the threat posed to coastal areas. As Johnny Chan, director of the Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Centre explained: “In order to adapt to climate change and the changing risk landscape, it is necessary to cut through this noise and focus on objective decisions to mitigate both the financial and social risks associated with climate change.”

The report found that rising sea levels associated with climate change would increase “coastal flood frequency and severity from tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones and tsunami events”. Recent losses from events such as the Thai floods, the Japanese tsunami and Sandy in the US should help to concentrate the mind. The report found that the growing urban footprint and increased population density in coastal areas would further exacerbate the problem.

Hazards associated with climate change aren’t only limited to coastal flooding however, with the report indicating that changes in precipitation will likely result in droughts and wildfires in certain parts of the globe.  Guy Carpenter cited the 78 day increase in the wildfire season in the US as a case in point.

95 percent of weather-related fatalities in emerging economies

Guy Carpenter said that efforts to offset the implications of climate change would need to include “water conservation and flood control efforts coupled with sustainable agriculture and land-use planning”. The report said that this would be particularly important in developing economies where 95 percent of weather-related fatalities occur.

The report said that while coastal flooding and drought linked to climate change are on the rise, the increased financial cost of such events was inherently tied up with GDP, total insured value, population density and annualised property value.