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5 Questions about climate scenarios KNMI

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The KNMI recently presented four new climate scenarios. What can insurers do with this and how does the Association deal with these scenarios? Climate Change Policy Advisor Vylon Ooms answers five questions.

1. The KNMI recently presented four climate scenarios. What does this mean for insurers?

"The scenarios give insurers an indication of what they can expect in the future in terms of extreme weather. The Association will also calculate the scenarios for the expected damage and we expect to come up with the results in early 2024. Insurers can already look back into the past with the Climate Damage Monitor and with these scenarios they can now also look ahead. The KNMI gives us a good idea of what we can expect from extreme weather events. Think of the increase in extreme summer showers, higher temperatures, more drought and presumably larger hailstones, stronger gusts and more fall winds during showers. A fall wind is created when a huge amount of cold air pours down from an intensive shower cloud. The air accelerates, causing the wind to increase. Such a fall wind is especially dangerous due to the sudden increase in wind. The forces that are released are large and can cause damage in an area of many hundreds of meters wide and kilometers in length. This was the case, for example, in June 2021 in Leersum in Utrecht, where a huge number of trees disappeared due to a fall wind."

2. What can insurers do with the scenarios?

"Insurers can now prepare for what is to come and think about how they want to take this into account towards their customers. The scenarios clearly show an increase in extreme weather. An increase in extreme weather brings with it an increase in damage. Climate adaptation, adapting to climate change, is important to reduce damage. This is not only about increasing awareness, but also about offering action perspectives. What can customers do to reduce damage from extreme weather? In the short term, this can be done via Early Warning, but you can also do a lot structurally. An example is the installation of a ceramic floor instead of a wooden floor when repairing after damage caused by flooding, so that the same damage does not occur in the next flood. Placing sockets higher and raising thresholds are also measures to reduce future damage from extreme precipitation. How exactly climate adaptation can be included is of course up to the individual insurer."

3. High or lower CO2 emissions play a major role in the scenarios. How can insurers ensure that CO2 emissions are reduced?

"Insurers can generally encourage their customers to arrange things in such a way that CO2 emissions are reduced. Then you talk about climate mitigation, preventing climate change. On the damage side, for example, you can very well talk to companies about how you can make business parks CO2-neutral. In general, promoting sustainable choices are essential, for example, repairing rather than replacing. It is also important to make sustainable choices in your own company. Think of working together with sustainable partners and setting a good example by making your own offices more sustainable."

4. How does the Covenant deal with the scenarios?

"We would like to share knowledge within our sector. That is why we have also invited the KNMI (also partner of the Association) to give a session at the tenth Climate Work Conference that will take place on 16 November. Experts from the KNMI will then explain the scenarios further. We want to connect the KNMI with our insurers in this way.
Another interesting session during the climate event that I would like to mention is the one about the Climate Finance Academy (CFA), which will be launched during the meeting. The CFA facilitates researchers who are part-time employees at a financial organisation and part-time PhD students at VU Amsterdam. Its employees conduct research into climate change and the financial sector. They investigate questions such as; What does climate change mean for the industry? What role do preventive measures play? How can you get customers to take these measures? What does it mean for real estate? This is certainly relevant, with all the climate and sustainability issues that are coming our way as a sector."

5. Finally. What do you think of the scenarios?

"In 2014, the KNMI also published scenarios and what is striking is that the impact of CO2 emissions has now been taken into account. In the scenarios of 2023, it has therefore become even clearer what happens if we do nothing and what if we do something to reduce emissions. What also strikes me is that the weather has become more extreme. The heat and associated drought are higher, as are the rise in sea level and the heavy showers. I expected this to be even more in line with the scenarios from 2014, but it is really different and more extreme.

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