Even the +2°C scenario that was reaffirmed this year by the United Nations and Group of Seven as the objective would not be without consequences. It would mean a rise in sea levels and an increase in the rate and intensity of extreme climate events such as heat waves, floods and droughts. These disasters would be magnified by the fact that populations and assets have never been so concentrated in disaster-prone areas. Half of the world's population now resides in cities, often along coastlines, and this proportion is due to rise to nearly two-thirds by the middle of the century, representing some 6.4 billion people.
According to the World Bank, 80% of the climate change adaptation costs for 2010-2050 would be borne by urban areas. Cities will be at the core of the climate conundrum. They are the best placed to map the risks likely to materialize locally as well as design adaptation strategies to curtail their exposure to the changing climate.
Following the publication of the study "Business Unusual: Why is the climate changing the rules for our cities and SMEs?" the AXA Group wanted to focus on the fact that certain cities have made great strides: they've put in place comprehensive resilience plans, invested in new infrastructure and helped residents and businesses alike adapt to the new reality of global warming. They've developed international networks to share experiences and expertise on how to reduce the impact of disasters, and both repair and rebuild -but better- after disaster has struck.
Climate change, though, is as much an opportunity as a risk. If cities can adjust, become smarter, they will drive future prosperity. Similarly, companies can leverage this challenge to be open to innovation and adopting new technologies.
It is our conviction that thanks to its expertise in risk modeling and prevention, crisis management and better repair, the insurance industry of which AXA is one of the driving forces will become a decisive partner in this global effort to develop resilience to climate change.