Actuaries Institute releases spring 2022 climate index

Report also reveals changes in sea level index

Actuaries Institute releases spring 2022 climate index

Insurance News

By Roxanne Libatique

The Actuaries Institute’s Australian Actuaries Climate Index for spring 2022 recorded the third-highest index value since the index began.

In its report, the Actuaries Institute explained that the high index value for spring 2022 was primarily driven by extreme rainfall, especially in the south-eastern parts of the country.

Among the areas that experienced extreme weather events last year, the Central Slopes – covering the inland parts of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) – and the Southern Slopes (Tasmania) recorded the highest-ever extreme rainfall index value due to cyclical climate drivers: a La Nina event, a negative Indian Ocean Dipole, and a positive Southern Annual Mode.

The storms and floods generated over 17,000 claims, with estimated insured losses of $477 million, following the $250 million of claims arising from the flood in western Sydney in July and $5.65 billion from floods in February and March. According to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), one in 25 Australians has made a flood- or storm-related claim since January 2020.

Actuaries Institute chief executive Elayne Grace commented on the spring 2022 results: “The spring reading underscores the importance of the step change Australia is finally seeing in investment and commitment at all levels of government, business, and community to adapt to and manage the consequences of climate change.”

Rade Musulin, chair of the Actuaries Institute Climate Risk Working Group, added: “When we experience extremes, we don’t experience them across the board. What we have seen in the spring quarter is extreme rainfall but moderate temperatures. Next spring quarter, we will probably be talking about the opposite, with El Niño expected to bring low rainfall, dryer conditions, and very high temperatures.”

Sea level index for Australia rose in 2022

The Actuaries Institute found that the sea level index for Australia rose in 2022 – particularly pronounced in south-eastern Australia. However, it went unnoticed due to the flooding events along the east coast.

The institute also noted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) findings that sea level rise in Australasia has been higher than global averages in recent decades. In the long term, coastal erosion and coastal inundation are key risks many communities in Australia will need to manage.

“Sea level increases are predicted as a significant issue in decades to come and a certain indication of climate change. This is going to become an increasing issue given about 87% of Australia’s population live within the coastal zone,” Grace said.

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