‘Mother of all stealth taxes’ payable by all

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said May this year was the hottest May ever and marked 12 straight months of record heat. | REUTERS

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said May this year was the hottest May ever and marked 12 straight months of record heat. | REUTERS

Published Jun 9, 2024


Durban — It’s climate crunch time and extreme events turbocharged by climate chaos are piling up, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Speaking on World Environment Day on Wednesday he said that May 2024 was officially reported as the hottest May in recorded history, according to the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Guterres said it also marked 12 straight months of the hottest months ever as every turn of the calendar had turned up the heat.

“Our planet is trying to tell us something but we don’t seem to be listening,” he said.

He said climate change was the mother of all stealth taxes paid by everyday people and vulnerable countries.

However, while the debate over climate changes rages on, insurers in South Africa said the increase in inclement weather conditions was proof that weather patterns were changing.

Karen Zimmer, from the PSG financial services brokerage, said South Africans were dealing with extreme weather patterns and their consequences, like excessive rain and flooding or very dry conditions with high temperatures and the risk of fires.

“I’m definitely not a weather and climate change expert. But what I can tell you is that we are definitely getting more and more claims based on losses that occurred because of weather patterns. Whether it’s excess rain or whether it’s very dry and we’ve got fires and things like that, we can definitely see it and I think that’s also why insurers will depend on clients to be more careful and preventative,” she said.

MiWay insurance spokesperson Siyakha Masiye said South Africa’s changing weather patterns were proof that the climate was changing.

The risks of weather disaster also differed from place to place and coastal areas had different risks to inland places.

“I think in South Africa, we can all agree that in the past five years or so, we have seen quite an increase in the number of floods we’re seeing, in KZN in particular. We’ve seen a lot of fires in Western Cape.

“You can almost agree that there is a change: we are in June now and one wouldn’t expect any heavy rains. I think the freak weather patterns we are seeing kind of do point to climate change,” said Masiye.

Meanwhile, Guterres likened humans to meteors that wiped out the dinosaurs, saying they were having an outsized impact.

“In the case of climate, we are not the dinosaurs. We are the meteor. We are not only in danger. We are the danger. But we are also the solution.”

He said people were being forced from their homes and displaced because of climate chaos, which was also pummelling economies, hammering health and rocking the foundations of peace and security.

“The cost of all this chaos is hitting people where it hurts, from severed supply-chains, to rising prices, mounting food insecurity, and uninsurable homes and businesses. That bill will keep growing. Even if emissions hit zero tomorrow, a recent study found that climate chaos will still cost at least $38 trillion (R717 trillion) a year by 2050,” said Guterres.

Independent on Saturday