Cost of natural disasters spiked in 2016

The financial losses caused by natural disasters in 2016 were the worst for four years. According to insurance group Munich Re, a series of devastating earthquakes, floods, storms and wildfires […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

The financial losses caused by natural disasters in 2016 were the worst for four years.

According to insurance group Munich Re, a series of devastating earthquakes, floods, storms and wildfires saw global damages rise to $175 billion (£142.3bn).

That was two thirds higher than the year before although not quite as high as the losses inflicted in 2012, when $180 billion (£146.3bn) of assets were damaged and destroyed by freak weather and catastrophes.

Its report states the increased losses are likely due to the increased frequency of such events – 750 ‘loss events’ were recorded, much higher than the 10-year average of 590.

The number of floods in particular made up 34% of 2016’s damage compared to the 21% 10-year average, it addas.

Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re’s Geo-Risks Research Unit, said: “A look at the weather-related catastrophes of 2016 shows the potential effects of unchecked climate change.

“Of course, individual events themselves can never be attributed directly to climate change. But there are now many indications that certain events – such as persistent weather systems or storms bringing torrential rain and hail – are more likely to occur in certain regions as a result of climate change.”

Surprisingly, the report shows the human impact of disasters was the second lowest in 30 years (after 8,050 in 2014) at 8,700 lives lost, much lower than the 25,400 fatalities recorded in 2015.