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NOTE: Bear in mind this is the view from Western financial capital, i.e. not particularly concerned with the valuation of climate-related damage done in the Global South. So with Europe lumped with Africa, and the Southern African drought doing extreme damage, nevertheless “the region did not endure an individual disaster event that caused economic losses beyond the USD5.0 billion threshold” because country-by-country, only South Africa emerges as a meso-loser.


By Aon Benfield

Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development centre of excellence at Aon Benfield, has released the Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report, which evaluates the impact of natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during 2015.

The report reveals that economic losses in 2015 were driven by flood, severe weather (thunderstorm), tropical cyclone and wildfire perils, which accounted for 70 percent of global natural disaster losses. 2015 was also documented as the warmest year since 1880 when global land and ocean temperature records began.

A Closer look at EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa)

Economic and insured losses derived from natural catastrophes in EMEA were well below the 2000-2014 norm and the lowest since 2011. For the second consecutive year, the region did not endure an individual disaster event that caused economic losses beyond the USD5.0 billion threshold. Economic losses (USD16 billion) in 2015 were 35 percent below the 2000-2014 average and 28 percent below the median during the same timeframe. Insured losses (USD5.0billion) were comparatively lower by a substantial 34 percent as compared to the 15-year average and a slightly less 13 percent on a median basis.

From a pure economic cost standpoint, the most significant events surrounded the drought peril as El Niño impacts led to a reduction in precipitation across broad sections of Europe and Africa. Three billion-dollar drought events were recorded in the region in 2015, including two alone in Africa (South Africa and Ethiopia) and one in Romania. The most considerable impacts to the droughts were to the agricultural sector, including concerns over food shortages in parts of Africa.

The most notable events in 2015, however, were primarily attributed to the European Windstorm peril. A fairly active year saw multiple storms impact western and northern portions of the European continent. The one-two punch of windstorms Mike and Niklas at the end of March and early April led to an estimated USD1.0 billion insured loss for the insurance industry. Windstorm Ted (also known locally as Desmond) led to extensive flooding in the northern UK as the Association of British Insurers noted insured losses up to USD775 million. Windstorms Elon, Felix, Heini, Nils, and Eckard also led to widespread damage. Please note that for consistency purposes, this report follows the naming convention by Free University of Berlin.

Extensive flooding impacted the United Kingdom in December as an active pattern brought substantial rainfall. Economic losses were in the billions (USD) and insured losses alone topped USD1.0 billion. In France, a catastrophic flash flood event in early October ravaged the French Riviera. Local insurers noted damages reaching USD725 million given extensive property damage to residential and commercial interests.

Perhaps the most unusual weather events during 2015 in EMEA came in Yemen. Two tropical cyclones (Chapala and Megh) made unprecedented November landfalls within one week’s time that led to severe damage along coastal sections of the Yemeni mainland and Socotra Island. Economic damages were estimated into the hundreds of millions (USD), but relief and aid organizations struggled to reach the hardest-hit areas given geopolitical issues in the region.

The drought peril (USD6.3 billion) was the costliest in EMEA, comprising 40 percent of all economic losses. Flood was the next costliest at 26 percent, with European Windstorm third at 25 percent. The only peril in the region to surpass its recent 10-year average was drought. The rest of the major perils were well lower than normal, with flood being particularly lower by 75 percent. Tropical Cyclone losses in Africa were on par with average.