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Munich Re warns climate change could cost billions

Natural disasters linked to climate change could cost the insurance industry billions of dollars in extra settlement payments every year, German insurance giant Munich Re said Thursday.

Munich Re warns climate change could cost billions
Photo: DPA

The company’s statistics show that “globally, the average number of major weather-related catastrophes such as wind storms, floods or droughts is now three times as high as at the beginning of the 1980’s.”

“Losses have risen even more, with average increases of 11 percent per year since 1980,” it said.

The firm said that although it was unclear to what extent the increased losses were a direct consequence of climate change, preliminary analysis suggested a “low single-digit percentage of annual overall losses.”

“The amounts involved are enormous,” it said. “Even conservative estimates show that we are talking here about climate change costs already running into billions per year.

“The insurance industry is able to adapt but, in the end, each individual has to bear the cost,” the firm said.

The statement came ahead of UN-sponsored climate change talks starting on December 7 in Copenhagen.

The talks are aimed at hammering out a global pact to reduce man-made emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for droughts, heavy flooding and unpredictable weather patterns.

Munich Re said it “makes economic sense to lay cornerstones for a new agreement, with ambitious targets, in Copenhagen. “Even now, climate change can no longer be halted, it can only be attenuated. And it is high time this was done.”

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MUNICH

Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.

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