Long-term climate conditions adding to Australia bushfires, says Munich Re
There are signs that climate change is impacting the scale of damage with losses from natural catastrophes in 2019 totalling $150bn
Munich — Environmental conditions have become more conducive to bushfires in Australia over the long term, a top insurer said on Wednesday.
The grim outlook by Munich Re, the German reinsurance company, comes in an annual report on natural catastrophes across the globe.
Australia has been reeling for weeks from deadly wildfires, affecting an area the size of South Korea.
The high point of Australia’s bushfire season is expected to peak in January and February, the German insurer said.
Munich Re said individual events could not be directly linked to climate change but recent studies showed “that, in the long term, the environmental conditions for bushfires have become more favourable — especially in the south and east of Australia”.
Losses from natural catastrophes in 2019 totalled $150bn worldwide, Munich Re said in its annual tally, which is roughly in line with the long-term average.
Japan was hardest hit with two tropical cyclones — Hagibis and Faxai — marking the second consecutive year of severe losses in the nation and accounting for $26bn in damages. “Such a double hit — two years in a row with record losses — is uncommon,” Ernst Rauch, chief climate and geoscientist at Munich Re, told Reuters.
In 2019, cyclones were characterised by two factirs that were likely a result of climate change, Rauch said: the storms came with extreme amounts of rainfall, and were slower moving.