“Summer 2022 could become the norm from 2050, so the status quo is not an option”

Lhe probable increase in the intensity and frequency of natural disasters under the effect of climate change is a major challenge: the summer of 2022 could become the norm from 2050. The status quo is therefore not an option. The change in our modes of production and consumption must continue. However, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will not halt climate change over the next two decades: the inertia of the climate system is too great. Therefore, the question is no longer whether we should adapt to this evolution, but how we should do it.

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Faced with natural disasters, we have three tools in France: prevention, which consists of avoiding endangering people and property; crisis management, which consists of mobilizing resources to help populations during an extreme event; financial compensation, which makes it possible to begin reconstruction following the disaster. But the compensation scheme for natural disasters, based on national solidarity, is now under strain due to successive droughts. The foreseeable increase in the cost of natural disasters by 2050 should structurally unbalance it over the next two decades.

Beyond financial balances, keeping the entire territory insurable and resilient will therefore require the implementation of a particularly effective natural risk prevention policy.

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We are not starting from scratch in this area, far from it. The first dykes were built in the twelfthe century to protect the Loire Valley from the wrath of the royal river. Since then, France has covered itself with more than 9,000 km of dykes. An example that symbolizes the way in which France has structured a comprehensive public prevention policy, based on different axes: knowing the areas at risk, avoiding investing in the most exposed areas, deconstructing the most vulnerable assets, building differently, reducing frequency and intensity of phenomena, adapt existing assets, change behaviors.

Mobilization of all

The State and local authorities are devoting increasing financial commitments to it: an average of 375 million euros per year over the last decade. At the same time, building regulations in risk areas have been considerably extended and tightened to limit the proliferation of unsuitable goods in the most exposed areas.

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