New Joint Re­port Fo­cuses On State’s Cli­mate Change

Escalon Times - - NEWS -

In­sur­ance Com­mis­sioner Dave Jones com­mended the pub­li­ca­tion of Cal­i­for­nia’s Fourth Cli­mate Change As­sess­ment (Fourth As­sess­ment), which in­cludes a large body of re­search on cli­mate im­pacts and how to re­spond to them. The Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of In­sur­ance was a mem­ber of the in­ter­a­gency Task Force which led the Fourth As­sess­ment. The Fourth As­sess­ment sup­ports Cal­i­for­nia’s cli­mate poli­cies and ac­tions and im­proves the state’s and pub­lic’s un­der­stand­ing of the im­pacts of cli­mate change in Cal­i­for­nia and ac­tions to help the state pre­pare for those im­pacts.

“Cli­mate change poses a sig­nif­i­cant threat to all of us. The Fourth As­sess­ment has brought to­gether key lead­ers, ex­perts, agen­cies, and stake­hold­ers through­out the state to un­der­stand the evolv­ing im­pacts of cli­mate change and po­ten­tial ac­tions that can pro­tect Cal­i­for­ni­ans,” said In­sur­ance Com­mis­sioner Dave Jones. “We were pleased to par­tic­i­pate with other de­part­ments in the Fourth As­sess­ment ef­fort and I sup­port the state’s ef­forts to re­duce cli­mate change caus­ing green­house gas emis­sions and to im­prove our re­siliency in the face of cli­mate change.”

As he leads the Depart­ment of In­sur­ance’s ef­forts to help Cal­i­for­ni­ans re­cover from wild­fires, which in 2017 caused $12.6 bil­lion in in­sured losses and took over 60 lives, Com­mis­sioner Jones has noted that cli­mate ex­perts have found that cli­mate change is con­tribut­ing to cat­a­strophic weather-re­lated events, in­clud­ing the in­crease in fre­quency, sever­ity and un­pre­dictabil­ity of wild­fires. By 2100, if green­house gas emis­sions con­tinue to rise, the Fourth As­sess­ment found that the fre­quency of ex­treme wild­fires burn­ing over ap­prox­i­mately 25,000 acres would in­crease by nearly 50 per­cent, and that av­er­age area burned statewide would in­crease by 77 per­cent by the end of the cen­tury. In the ar­eas that have the high­est fire risk, wild­fire in­sur­ance is es­ti­mated to see costs rise by 18 per­cent by 2055 and prop­erty in­sured would de­crease.

An ex­ten­sive sci­en­tific re­view sup­ported by the Fourth As­sess­ment found that re­duc­ing tree den­sity and restor­ing ben­e­fi­cial fire can im­prove longterm re­silience to Cal­i­for­nia’s forests. Sim­u­la­tions of large-scale fu­els treat­ments in Sierra Ne­vada forests sub­stan­tially re­duce in­creases in burned area. Im­prov­ing for­est health by re­mov­ing fu­els can have im­por­tant im­pacts to re­duce ris­ing wild­fire in­sur­ance costs. In­creas­ing un­der­stand­ing of megafires re­mains a crit­i­cal re­search need for Cal­i­for­nia.

As a na­tional leader on cli­mate change and cli­mate risk, and as the reg­u­la­tor of the largest in­sur­ance mar­ket in the na­tion, Com­mis­sioner Jones has led a mul­ti­state ef­fort since 2012 to re­quire in­sur­ers to re­spond to the Cli­mate Risk Sur­vey adopted by the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of In­sur­ance Com­mis­sion­ers (NAIC) in 2009. In early 2016, Jones launched his Cli­mate Risk Car­bon Ini­tia­tive be­cause of the po­ten­tial for in­vest­ments in coal, oil, gas and util­i­ties re­ly­ing sub­stan­tially on burn­ing car­bon, to be­come stranded as­sets on the books of in­sur­ers with lit­tle or no value as gov­ern­ments, pri­vate com­pa­nies and markets, in an ef­fort to ad­dress cli­mate change, may slowly or dra­mat­i­cally re­duce the de­mand for car­bon-based fu­els and their value drops.

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