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Majority of Americans now showing concern about climate change’s impact on severe weather


December 2, 2014   by Canadian Underwriter


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Americans in the region recently affected by major hurricanes such as Superstorm Sandy are showing the most concern about climate change and its impact on severe weather, according to a new survey from Munich Re.

In the Climate Change Barometer telephone survey of more than 1,000 Americans, 83% said they believe climate change is occurring and 63% said they are concerned about changes in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters including floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.

At 71%, Americans living in the Northeast were more concerned about changes in the severity of weather events than those living in the West (65%), Midwest (60%), and South (59%), according to Munich Re America.

“Our survey findings indicate that national sentiment over whether or not climatic changes are occurring has finally reached a tipping point,” Tony Kuczinski, president and CEO of Munich Re America said in a statement on the survey results.

“Nowhere in the world are the insurance industry and its customers more affected by the rising number of natural catastrophes than in North America,” Kuczinski also noted.

“Driving adaptation and mitigation efforts will require a persistent public-private effort that spans the insurance industry, government agencies, and the American public. A critical step in this process is to continually bring relevant information to the forefront and to promote an open and robust discussion about solutions.”

However, when asked which risks were most concerning, just 14% listed climate change, with other risks ranking higher, including global political instability at 31%, an economic crisis at 27% and a pandemic at 22%.

Despite that, 63% did indicate that they have or plan to fortify their homes to protect against future severe weather.

“Forty-seven percent would consider moving away from hazard-prone areas, and a similar portion of Americans (47 %) have purchased or plan to purchase an additional insurance policy, such as flood or earthquake insurance,” Munich Re also noted.

In terms of how to combat climate change, 71% of those surveyed said they believe more emphasis should be placed on alternative energy (such as solar or wind power), while 66% said they support government-backed incentives to change business and consumer behaviour.

In addition, 61% said that education initiatives about how households can reduce their carbon footprint would be a good method of slowing down climate change.