Climate change, caused primarily by humans, is a real phenomenon, and a report from over 2,000 scientists confirms that immediate measures need to be taken to reduce the pollutants that cause it, said an insurance executive.
“There is much higher confidence and conviction that much of the CO2 increase and the temperature increase of the past fifty years is due to human activity,” said Ivo Menzinger, head of sustainability with Zurich-based insurer Swiss Re.
“There were still some critics in the past saying that there were other reasons for this increase, but these myths were actually debunked [by this report],”according to Mr. Menzinger.
His comments came during a conference call with reporters today to discuss the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Swiss Re is an expert reviewer of the report.
The report, explained Mr. Menzinger, is the work of more than 2,500 scientists who have worked over the past six years analyzing the latest data available on climate change.
He said the study–the third in a series–incorporated records going back 650,000 years from ice cores. The data shows carbon dioxide is at the highest levels it has ever been over that period.
The report also refutes other suggestions that global warming is caused either from urban islands, the heat reflected from buildings and highways back into the atmosphere, or solar heating from increased sun spot activity.
“What we see is not due to solar activity but human activity,” he said.
The report also “conveys a sense of urgency because we have a better understanding of the human influence,” he related.
Because of global warming, sea levels are expected to rise along with increased temperatures that will affect climate, creating droughts and flooding, said Mr. Menzinger.
“We at Swiss Re feel that our view has been confirmed and that climate change is a real phenomenon that is not going to go away and requires action today,” he continued.
The climate change risk for insurers, according to a yet-to-be-published Swiss Re analysis, is that if it continues unabated, and no risk mitigation is taken, claims from winter storms in Europe alone could rise 16-to-68 percent by the end of the century.
Mr. Menzinger noted that premiums would inevitably increase in proportion to the risk.
The world must come to terms with the causes of global warming and begin mitigating the risk, he noted. He said mitigation techniques would include improved buildings codes, dealing with flood control and reduction of carbon emissions. He added that it was critical to determine what changes can be made to reduce and eliminate the risks, and to recognize the inevitable and adapt.
“We better start today to take those actions [rather] than wait until the consequences become really severe,” observed Mr. Menzinger.