Funny how these things creep up on you. When young, one can be blissfully blasé about the pains and indignities of ageing. In my youthful swagger the thought of recurrent back pain and having to wear varifocal lenses seemed almost ludicrously far away, a distant shore of indignities that could barely be seen. Now? Well, they are realities that one learns to live with.
My attitude to climate change has been somewhat similar. It has been a concept that’s been around since my teens, I suppose, but back then what did ozone depletion and warnings of catastrophic changes to global weather systems have to do with my life? Wine, women and song were substantively more important then.
Still, one thing I do remember about those early news reports and documentaries on climate change was what the likely effect on the UK would be by the time I was middle-aged: warmer summers and wetter winters. And guess what has happened? Just that.
So far, the effect here in Surrey of climate change has been easy to live with. Apart from irritating heatwaves occurring with greater frequency in recent years there hasn’t been too much to complain about yet. I do miss the snowy winters, which used to be an annual event when I was a child, and it’s a shame my kids can’t look forward to getting the toboggan out of the shed as we used to. Besides, they reckon that the climate here in the South East will become increasingly conducive to growing some decent wine, so there is at least that!
But the UK isn’t really the point, is it? Lagos in Nigeria, Manila in the Philippines, and of course the Artic are all examples of cities and regions that face existential threats from climate change if temperatures and sea levels continue to rise as projected by the United Nations.
For the (re)insurance market, the issue is also now unavoidable. As Swiss Re notes in its latest Sigma estimate of nat cat losses for 2020, climate change is expected to exacerbate secondary peril events as more humid air and rising temperatures create more extreme weather conditions. As it says, these favour the onset and spread of events such as wildfires, storm surges and floods.
Thankfully Swiss Re is making its voice loud and clear on the issue, and it is a message that we at Emerging Risks wholeheartedly endorse. I leave you with the words of Jerome Jean Haegeli, Swiss Re Group chief economist:
“As with COVID-19, climate change will be a huge test of global resilience. Neither pandemics nor climate change are ‘black swan’ events. But while COVID-19 has an expiry date, climate change does not, and failure to ‘green’ the global economic recovery now will increase costs for society in future.”
Enjoy the read,