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Politicians must act to cap global warming when they meet at a United Nations summit at the end of the year as the financial and humanitarian consequences of natural catastrophes become ever clearer, reinsurers meeting at an industry conference said.
The $600 billion reinsurance industry helps insurance companies pay damage claims from hurricanes, floods or earthquakes and can help people and companies get back on their feet after a disaster.
The UN’s climate boss warned this week that national promises to cut emissions so far would cap warming at an unacceptably high level, heightening concerns in the insurance industry about politicians’ lack of resolve.
“Definitely we expect political courage to move in a direction that shows responsibility towards future generations and a certain interest in defending the sustainability of this planet,” Swiss Re’s Chief Executive, Michel Lies, told a news conference.
Swiss Re data shows natural disasters caused an average $180 billion in economic damage per year over the last decade, of which 70 percent was uninsured.
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s said big natural catastrophes can also lead to cuts in sovereign credit ratings — making it more expensive for governments to borrow money — with Latin America and the Caribbean most at risk.
These conclusions should help concentrate minds at the climate talks starting in Paris on Nov. 30, reinsurers said.
“What we can bring to the table is a credible price tag for the decisions that are taken or not taken, making sure everybody understands that in the short term you may not take a decision but you will definitely pay a price in the long term,” Lies said.
Weather researchers say global warming will result in more frequent and intense heatwaves, precipitation and storms. Warming needs to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to avoid the most devastating consequences in the form of droughts and rising sea levels, scientists say.
“Even if this goal is not fully reached, every step in this direction is better than no result at all,” said Peter Hoeppe, head of Geo Risks Research at reinsurer Munich Re.
In the meantime, there must be increasing focus on preventive measures such as flood defences that can help dampen the rise in insurance premiums in the medium to long term, Hoeppe said.
Insurers and Group of Seven industrialized countries are working to expand the availability of insurance to an additional 400 million people in developing countries considered at high risk.
“Climate change is happening, no question,” said XL Group’s Chief Executive, Mike McGavick.
“Insurers and reinsurers have to be at the forefront of transferring that risk,” McGavick said.
Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch
“Combatting climate change, promoting sustainable development and addressing the vulnerabilities of SIDS will demand partnership, capacity and leadership,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who recalled that the SAMOA Pathway is here “to guide us.”
Last year’s Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa increased global attention on their contributions to sustainable development – but also on their unique vulnerabilities, Mr. Ban reminded to the Council members, who were meeting for an unprecedented debate about the situation of these countries.
From traditional armed conflict to transnational crime and piracy, illicit exploitation of natural resources, climate change and climate-related natural disasters and uneven development, small island developing States face a range of peace and security challenges, according to the concept note provided by New Zealand, which holds the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of July.
Caribbean SIDS, for example, are vulnerable to drug-trafficking and gang-related violence, noted the Secretary-General, while unreported and unregulated fishing undermine local economies. Through its Maritime Crime Programme, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is actively engaged to help these countries in these areas.
“Taken together with the broader vulnerabilities faced by many of these States communities, these challenges can disproportionately affect national stability, fuel conflict across regions and ultimately have an impact on the maintenance of international peace and security,” adds the Security Council concept note.
For the Secretary-General, the first priority must be to support these States in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
“Second, we need a post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals that address the needs of SIDS,” he continued.
At the recent Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, which took place from July 13 to 16, it was encouraging that the concerns of [that group of countries] were reflected, including in critical areas such as debt, trade, technology and Official Development Assistance, Mr. Ban noted.
“Third, we need a meaningful and universal global climate agreement in Paris in December,” stressed the UN chief, as small island developing States are on the front lines of climate change.
“Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu is only the latest in a long string of devastation that SIDS have endured and will continue to endure as long as climate change is not adequately addressed,” he warned, underscoring that Caribbean countries sometimes experience as many as five hurricanes in a season.
Rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters exacerbate the conditions leading to community displacement and migration, threatening to increase tensions over resources and affect domestic and regional stability, the Secretary-General went on to say.
“Leading by example,” many of these countries have been accelerating their own transition to renewable energy to secure a sustainable energy future. But, to support SIDS in their actions to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts, “a politically credible trajectory for mobilizing the pledged $100 billion dollars per year by 2020” is needed, he explained.
The Green Climate Fund will need to be up and running before the Climate Conference in Paris in December, but a “meaningful, universal climate agreement” must be adopted, concluded the Secretary-General.
Credit: UN News Centre
The Gold Standard Cities Programme is developing ground-breaking solutions that will unlock the finance needed by cities around the globe for low carbon development.
Urbanization and climate change will be defining issues of the 21st century. Half of the world’s population resides in cities and it is expected that by 2015, the world will have over 350 cities with more than one million inhabitants each.
Cities are already feeling the impacts of climate change and they will increasingly be susceptible to rising sea levels, inland flooding, frequent and stronger tropical cyclones, periods of increased heat and the spread of diseases. To mitigate climate change and to adapt to these impacts, it is estimated that by 2050 more than a trillion U.S. dollars in investment will be needed for cities but currently, less than 2% of climate finance is channeled into urban projects due to a lack of reliable monitoring, reporting and verification on project performance and outcomes. Further, the World Bank estimates that of the 500 largest cities in the developing world, only about 4 percent are credit worthy in international financial markets, making it next to impossible to access finance for low carbon development.
The Gold Standard Cities Programme is a ground-breaking results-based finance framework through which cities can develop, audit and verify urban programmes – in order to catalyse and scale up the currently missing investment.
Supported by WWF, initial work used suppressed demand methodologies to determine that slums in Delhi emit 6.1 million tons of CO2 annually which can be reduced to 2.8 million tons by the implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
Establishing this baseline for slum areas was not only cutting edge research but a critical pre-requisite for climate finance to flow. Without a baseline it is impossible to verify emission reductions – the whole premise of results based climate finance. Until now, this has been a key barrier to funding urban low carbon and pro-poor development through climate finance.
The results-based finance framework, developed initially for Delhi, has been designed to be replicated in cities around the world, giving investors confidence that they have a global benchmark with which they can measure urban low carbon and sustainable development outcomes.
Major cities in China, the Middle East and Turkey are in the process of joining The Gold Standard Cities Programme.
For more information about The Gold Standard’s work with sustainable cities, please visit:
Credit: The Gold Standard