Extreme weather: Germany records highest economic losses in Europe

Extreme weather: Germany records highest economic losses in Europe

Between 1980 and 2020, extreme weather events across Europe caused hundreds of billions of euros’ worth of damage and were responsible for up to 145.000 deaths, according to a new report. Germany recorded the highest economic losses on the continent.

Extreme weather has caused 110 billion euros of damage in Germany since 1980

Storms, floods, forest fires, heatwaves, cold snaps, heavy rain and droughts were all responsible for up to half a trillion euros of damage in Europe over the past four decades, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA), which examined disasters across the bloc between 1980 and 2020. 

In the 27 EU countries examined, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Turkey, extreme weather caused a total of 450 to 520 billion euros in damage, while Germany, as the most populous country in the EU, recorded the highest overall economic damage - around 110 billion euros over the 41-year period. France and Italy followed, while the losses per inhabitant were highest in Switzerland

Most deaths caused by heatwaves

The report also found that a small number of extreme events - approximately 3 percent of the total - caused a massive 60 percent of the damage. Only around 23 percent of losses were covered by insurance, and this rate varied massively across the bloc - as low as 1 percent in Romania and Lithuania, to 56 percent in Denmark and 55 percent in the Netherlands.

The report calculated that extreme weather events were responsible for approximately 85.000 to 145.000 deaths in the period under examination. A full 85 percent were put down to heatwaves, and as many as 50 to 75 percent of all the fatalities were found to be caused by the heatwave of 2003. 

Europe is doing a lot to adapt to climate change

The EEA said that climate change was likely to increase the risk of both damage and loss of life - especially since there are more economic assets in flood-prone coastal areas - but could not from the current data discern a clear trend towards higher damage figures in Europe. 

However, the EEA remarked that freak weather events often occur completely randomly and that a lot is already being done across Europe to adapt to climate change. “The reason you don’t see a trend isn’t because climate change isn’t real; it’s because a lot of action is already being taken,” said Wouter Vanneuville, from the EEA. 

The EU Adaptation Strategy, for instance, aims for the bloc to “adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change and become climate resilient by 2050.” The EEA said member states should work together to limit carbon emissions where possible and said the increasing insurance coverage would be one of the key risk management tools to increase countries’ ability to recover from natural disasters. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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