U.S., China Most at Risk from Natural Disasters Linked to Climate Change

A new study, released by the UK-based Maplecroft, has determined that “the increase in both frequency and severity of climate related disasters is increasingly impacting upon developed and emerging economies.”

Maplecroft, according to its web site (www.maplecroft.com ) provides quantitative and comprehensive “extra-financial” and global risks indices, maps and data, including “human rights, political risk, government risk, climate change, resource security, health and other areas of macroeconomic and societal risk.”

Its bulletin announcing the study’s releas notes that while “the human impact of natural disasters is predominantly concentrated in developing countries, with 90 percent of deaths occurring in these regions,

Natural disasters cost the world around $200 billion in 2008. The U.S. and China “bore 90 percent of this burden,” topping Maplecroft’s “table for countries most susceptible to economic losses. Moreover, experts are predicting that hurricane and storm activity will rise in 2009 meaning the prospects for insurance companies are worrying,” said the bulletin..

“So far this century, more than 800,000 people have been killed by natural disasters, more than 2 billion have been affected, and damage costs total over $ 800 billion,” it continued. “But not all natural hazards become disasters. Although we cannot stop events such as earthquakes and hurricanes, at least in the short term, we can reduce the risk they pose by reducing our vulnerability to them. We can do this by assessing the risk, being better prepared and responding more effectively when potentially disastrous natural events occur. Critical to this task is the availability of systematic knowledge and analysis.”

In an effort to make that knowledge available, Maplecroft noted that it has “produced a new series of global maps of natural disaster risk for 2009, mapping the risk to human development and economic activity in 208 countries. The maps and risk indices are designed to support efforts to mitigate the effects that climate change and natural disasters can have on communities as well as economic activity. Four sets of maps explore:
1) All natural disasters;
2) Hydro-meteorological disasters;
3) Geophysical disasters and
4) Economic losses due to natural disasters.

“Each map uses a unique index to measure disaster risk in each country. The maps are supported with background explanation and comprehensive analysis as well as discussion of how business can engage in natural disaster preparedness and response, supported by case studies of business engagement.”

“Maplecroft also found that 90 percent of deaths caused by natural disasters were concentrated in developing countries, with Bangladesh and Sudan most vulnerable in their Hydro-meteorological Disasters Index.”

The study also found that the “increase in the disaster level of hydro-meteorological events, such as last year’s Cyclone Nargis and Hurricane Ike has prompted insurers amongst others, not least public interest groups, to strengthen demands on policymakers to agree on joined up approaches to tackling climate change. Moreover, this year began with the worst forest fires in Australia’s history, underlining the relevance of the IPCC’s predicted increase in extreme temperature events.”

For more information got to the firm’s web site, or contact: Jason McGeown or Ed Cole at +44 (0) 1225 420000 or info@maplecroft.com.

Source: Maplecroft