One of the more interesting talks at the Climate Congress this week came a presentation by Nick Silver and Oliver Betts, professionals from the insurance industry who have been applying frameworks of risk analysis from that industry to the issue of climate change. It was fascinating (and alarming) to see climate change through their eyes.
They spoke about “risk of ruin” analysis common in their industry, where one takes the most conservative analysis of risks – in this case the high end of climate sensitivity (the temperature increase expected for a doubling of atmospheric CO2), the high end possible sea level rise, the low end of temperatures where irreversible change is thought to become probable.
Applying these methods they presented two conclusions:
(1) The uncertainties of climate change are too high to build a proper “risk of ruin” model, at the standards of practice in their field.
(2) They were able to do an approximate calculation and concluded that current atmospheric CO2 levels already present an unacceptable risk, and actions should be taken immediately to lower CO2 levels and protect against that risk.
So sad that collectively we are risking the ‘assets’ of our only planet to a level that the insurance industry wouldn’t allow for a business or home.
I hope they write up their findings, and share them widely, coming as they do in a language to which decision makers may be more accustomed to than the IPCC’s framing on risk.