16 Feb 2023, 13:27
Sören Amelang

Germany must stop building houses in areas threatened by flooding, insurers warn

Clean Energy Wire

Building construction on land at high risk of flooding is continuing apace in Germany and must stop, the country’s insurers have warned. "Only climate-adapted construction can reduce the economic damage caused by climate change and extreme weather events in the future," said Jörg Asmussen, head of the German Insurance Association GDV. The lobby group said that since 2000, over 32,000 residential buildings have been constructed in high-risk areas, increasing the total to 338,000. "This means that about 1,000 to 2,400 new residential buildings were added in risk areas every year," according to the association, which said that in total, 2.7 million new homes were built during that period. "As a matter of principle, new construction should not take place in areas subject to flooding," Asmussen added. "In fact, the percentage of new residential buildings in floodplains has increased over the past 23 years," he continued.

The insurers called for reforms to building and planning laws, because current regulations do not yet take into account the effects of climate change. They argued that the goal of ‘climate-adapted construction’ must be included in building legislation. The association added that existing buildings should also be protected against flooding and heavy rain through preventive measures. "Prevention and adaptation to the consequences of climate change are a linchpin for ensuring that losses from natural disasters and thus insurance premiums do not get out of hand financially," says Asmussen.

In July 2021, heavy rains caused a flood disaster that counts among the worst in the country’s post-war history, with a total death toll exceeding 200 people. The floods were widely linked to climate change.

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