Climate calamity ‘top threat’ to global economy in 2016

Climate disasters seen doing greatest damage for first time, finds World Economic Forum survey of global risks

Vanuatu in the wake of Cyclone Pam (Pic: UNICEF)

The Pacific island of Vanuatu in the wake of Cyclone Pam (Pic: UNICEF)

By Alex Pashley

Disasters caused by climate change beat nuclear proliferation and forced migrations to head economists’ concerns for the year ahead.

A survey of 750 experts by the World Economic Forum before its annual meeting in Switzerland next week pushed the environment to first place in 11 years.

“Climate change is exacerbating more risks than ever before in terms of water crises, food shortages, constrained economic growth, weaker societal cohesion and increased security risks,” said Cecilia Reyes, chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group who collaborated on the report.

With global average temperatures 1C hotter than pre-industrial levels for the first time and the number of displaced people almost 50% more than 1940, at 59.5 million, WEF saw risks as rising.

On top of fears of natural disasters, respondents said large-scale involuntary migration was likelier to occur this year.

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