聯合國氣候變遷會議6日公佈，2005年因氣候引起之天然災害已造成最慘重的財政損失。據世界知名的慕尼黑再保險基金會（Munich Re Foundation）初步估算，2005年全球經濟損失將超過2,000億美元，保險損失同樣將達700億美元以上。
The largest financial losses ever due to weather-related natural disasters occurred in 2005, the United Nations climate change conference was told Tuesday. Preliminary estimates presented by the Munich Re Foundation, part of one of the world’s top re-insurance companies, put the economic losses at more than US$200 billion with insured losses running at more than US$70 billion.
This compares with 2004, the previous most costly year, when economic losses totalled around US$145 billion and the insured losses reached about US$45 billion.
"There is a powerful indication from these figures that we are moving from predictions of the likely impacts of climate change to proof that it is already fully underway," said Thomas Loster, chief executive of the Munich Re Foundation and a member of the Finance Initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). "Above all, these are humanitarian tragedies and show us that, as a result of our impacts on the climate, we are making people and communities everywhere more vulnerable to weather-related natural disasters," he said.
The Munich Re Foundation was set up this year to help people minimize the risks of disasters in all forms. Initiatives include promoting micro-insurance so that poorer parts of the world can afford cover against disaster-related losses, including those from climate change.
Loster, a climate expert, said that economic losses related to atmospheric disasters showed a far stronger trend than those related to earthquakes for the years 1950 to 2004.
"We do not want to underestimate the human tragedy of earthquakes like the recent one in Pakistan which can kill tens of thousands of people a year. But our findings indicate that it is the toll of weather-related disasters that are the ones on the rise," he said.
Insurance industry experts point to growing scientific evidence, including studies, reported in the journal "Nature" this year, that indicate that major tropical storms in the Atlantic and Pacific have increased in duration and intensity by about 50 percent since the 1970s.
The year was also marked by recordbreaking events. The highest ever rainfall in India was recorded in Mumbai on July 26 when 944 millimeters of rain in 24 hours poured down upon the city. The first ever hurricane to approach Europe happened in October when Hurricane Vince made landfall in Spain. It was also the most eastern and northern hurricane ever seen.
Hurricane Wilma, which formed in the Caribbean in October, was the strongest hurricane ever, causing devastation in Mexico's Cozumel and Yucatan. Economic losses have been calculated at US$15 billion with insured losses of US$10 billion. Hurricane Katrina, the sixth strongest since records began, has been the most costly weather-related disaster ever, with economic losses totalling more than US$125 billion and most likely more than US$30 billion insured losses.
"We are here in Montreal for the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Climate Change Convention," said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer. "It is vital that, before this meeting ends, Governments send a clear signal to business, industry and the people of the world that they are determined to continue the battle to curb global warming."
Scientists estimate that greenhouse gases must be reduced by 60 percent or more in order to stabilize the atmosphere.