19 Mar 2024, 13:48
Jack McGovan

Munich Re climatologist suggests homes destroyed by floods shouldn’t be rebuilt


Reinsurance company Munich Re's top climate scientist has said that many settlements destroyed by floods shouldn’t be rebuilt. With reference to Germany's Ahr valley, which suffered 40 billion euros of flood damage in 2021, Ernst Rauch told newspaper Tagesspiegel: “If you approach this question rationally, from a pure, sober risk management perspective, then it doesn't make much sense to build exactly where you have these large losses, because such an event can be expected again.” He added it was nonsensical to build in places like the Ahr valley, as the risk of flooding is only going to increase. However, construction is taking place due to both ignorance and a lack of transparency from people benefiting from it, Rauch said, adding that increased risk of damage also meant increased insurance premiums.

Climate change models predict increased rainfall in Germany, as a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture in the air. The German insurance industry has warned that premiums for insuring residential buildings could double over the coming decade in the face of increasing damages caused by the effects of climate change, as individual insurers will have to examine whether they can continue to insure against floods and heavy rain set to increase in frequency and become more severe. Insurers have also 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. Last year, the association of German insurers said that only 52 percent of households in the country have some form of natural hazard insurance.

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