WMO dismays property cat writers with Cassandra-like prophecy

A stark message from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high last year, with “no end in sight” to the trend, will be greeted with dismay by the property cat market.

Insurability of cat covers in certain geographies, especially those in low-lying, densely populated urban areas with high levels of insurance penetration, is becoming a major issue for the (re)insurance market as it struggles to come to terms with the changing nature of climate risk.

The WMO warning comes weeks before world leaders are due to gather in Dubai for the annual UN climate conference COP28, which will see governments push for greater climate action, including a possible phaseout of fossil fuels before 2050.

In 2022, global average concentrations of carbon dioxide were a full 50% above the pre-industrial era for the first time, the UN weather agency said.

“Despite decades of warnings from the scientific community, thousands of pages of reports and dozens of climate conferences, we are still heading in the wrong direction,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. (above).

Taalas said higher concentrations of greenhouse gases would be accompanied by more extreme weather events, including intense heat and rainfall, ice melt, higher sea levels, as well as ocean heat and acidification.

“We must reduce the consumption of fossil fuels as a matter of urgency,” he said.

Methane concentrations in the atmosphere also increased, and levels of nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas, saw the highest year-on-year increase on record between 2021 and 2022, the WMO said.

Greenhouse gases are responsible for warming the planet and triggering extreme weather events. Unlike emissions which can be cut, much of the carbon dioxide emitted decades ago remains in the atmosphere and activates slow processes like the increase of the sea level.

A separate UN report published earlier this week said that governments are making insufficient progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst impacts of global warming.