Have we become our own enemies?

By Cenk Bilgin, Senior Regional Marine Underwriting Manager, GIG Gulf Insurance, Member of IFY Committee at IUMI

Between 2001–2021, 119 million hectares of tree cover was reportedly lost in fires globally. Is climate change and the rise in temperatures to blame? Surprisingly, not completely! In the US, over more than 80% percent of wildfires are caused by people, and a similar percentage is reflected in global data. Fires are typically the result of human activity.

Naturally, more evaporated moisture, dried soil and lowered humidity are creating a more flammable environment and making the firefighters’ jobs tougher. 2020 became the hottest year ever recorded, with not only numerous forest fires but also hurricanes. Bushfires, increased numbers of storms, and devastating floods are causing thousands of casualties and billions of losses to the global economy.

Climate change and global warming are among mankind’s biggest challenges, today and tomorrow, for our global economy and for our future generations. We seem to have found ourselves in a vicious circle where humankind’s presence on this planet could well be the main cause of its extinction. 

But there are solutions and alternatives. Leave it to these same humans to find solutions to counteract the growing threat. Solar energy, used in heavy industries, in houses, vehicles and even in solar-powered yachts is on the rise. According to the World Resources Institute, wind and solar energy has seen a growth of 15% between 2015 and 2020 and at this rate, it should reach 45% of electricity generation by 2030.   

We have seen this trend in yachting over the past couple of years with hybrid propulsion solutions coming to life. Two solar power systems on yachts have seen major uplift developments in a short period of time: photovoltaic and solar thermal panels. These cost-efficient energy sources have become key alternatives for power generation in the yacht industry.

Marine insurers have a role to play. We know that the shipping industry is an important contributor to the world’s carbon emissions [i.e. 2.5%]. But by developing offers and coverages that cater to the trend of sustainable energy solutions, by collaborating with international and local maritime authorities, and by facilitating awareness programmes across the industry, we do justice to our responsibility towards future generations.

The solutions exist, the appetite is there, now it’s time to scale up. Just as we have become our own enemies, we can become our own rescuers.