Eye of the Storm: An Insurance Perspective of Climate Change, its Risks and Africa

November 23, 2021

Deadly floods in Europe, hurricanes ravaging North America, the drying up of South America’s second largest river system and unprecedented wildfires across the Mediterranean, sounds like the opening scenes to a dystopic science fiction movie, right? Far from fantasy, these were just a handful of the many climate catastrophes experienced globally in 2021 alone. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land; [as a result] widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred,” was one of several worrisome assessments made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their sixth assessment report released in August 2021. Similarly, in his opening statement at the November 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 26 President Alok Sharma concurred that indeed “our shared planet is changing for the worse” and “the lights are flashing red on the climate dashboard”, while UN Secretary General António Guterres sounded off against “brutalizing biodiversity”, “killing ourselves with carbon”, and “burning, drilling and mining our way deeper” into crisis. With scientific consensus now indubitable, and climate disasters more prevalent, we must transition discussions on climate change, its effects, and mitigation away from the annals of science and to the mainstream, particularly in Africa. With the African continent warming at a slightly higher rate than the rest of the world, its surrounding sea rising slightly more than the global mean, and projections that “30 of the world’s 40 most climate-vulnerable countries are in sub-Saharan Africa” we must act immediately. This article will seek to outline the impacts, both current and emerging, of climate change – globally and in Africa – and how finance and insurance can contribute to building resilience amid such ongoing crises.