The threat of extreme weather events represents the greatest risk to global economic progress, according to business leaders polled by the World Economic Forum. For the third year in a row, respondents to the WEF’s Global Risks Report rated climate-related disasters as a more present risk than social and technological threats, such as cyber attacks or populist nationalism.
The survey’s respondents rated a failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation as the second most likely-to-occur risk in 2019, following on from two of the world’s largest economies—the USA and Brazil—threatening to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, which commits countries to reducing carbon emissions and preventing catastrophic global warming.
“2018 was sadly a year of historic wildfires, continued heavy flooding and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. It is no surprise that in 2019, environmental risks once again dominate the list of major concerns,” said Alison Martin, chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group, which contributed to the research. “To effectively respond to climate change requires a significant increase in infrastructure to adapt to this new environment and transition to a low-carbon economy… Against this backdrop, we strongly recommend that businesses develop a climate resilience adaptation strategy and act on it now.”
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