Storms, wildfires and drought: How much the climate crisis cost France in 2022

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 3 Mar, 2023 Updated Fri 3 Mar 2023 15:06 CEST
Storms, wildfires and drought: How much the climate crisis cost France in 2022
Two women walk towards the partially dry Lake Montbel, south-western France, on February 21, 2023. (Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP)

Extreme weather including wildfires, flooding and hailstorms cost France up to €10 billion in 2022, insurers have revealed.


The report compiles data from organisations including the French insurance federation and national weather service Météo France to summarise the main climatic events of the year and their economic consequences. 

The French Federation of Insurance (France Assureurs) told Le Parisien that the cost of environmental disasters has been on the rise in recent years.

"In the 1980s, weather claims represented an average of €1 billion per year. Since 2016, the cost has been on average €3.5 billion per year", France Assureurs told Le Parisien.


When it comes to 2022, Florence Lustman, the president of France Assureurs told Europe 1 that 2022 is "truly annus horribilis when it comes to climatic events", adding that "climate change will force us to rethink our natural disaster framework".


READ MORE: What does a state of ‘natural disaster’ mean in France?

The year 2022 saw a catalogue of extreme weather events, which experts say are made more likely by the climate crisis. Some, such as the droughts and ensuing wildfires, can be linked more directly to a heating planet.


From the end of May to the beginning of July, the report found that France experienced four exceptional storm events - including hailstorms in which hailstones as big as 12cm fell - which in themselves generated one million insurance claims, costing at least €4 billion in total.

Between June 18th and July 4th alone, 267,000 homes and 337,000 vehicles were damaged. The majority of the destruction was concentrated in south-central France.

Corsica was also severely impacted by storms between August 17th and 19th, with winds of over 220 km per hour. This led to the deaths of five people, along with hundreds of homes being damaged and dozens of ships either running aground or sinking on the island's western coastline.


According to Le Parisien, the report also found that high-intensity tornadoes were more frequent in 2022 when compared with previous years. These particularly impacted north-west France, namely in Pas-de-Calais where a tornado was able to cross through over 200 kilometres of land, impacting at least 100 municipalities.

In total, the report surmised that hail, winter storms, and thunderstorms together cost about €6.4 billion in 2022.


During the summer of 2022, wildfires burned more than 62,000 hectares of land. For 22 French départements, the amount of land burned in 2022 increased significantly - representing at least 10 times more than the average amount burned - according to Le Monde.


Certain wildfires stood out - including those that took place in La Teste-du-Buch, Saint-Magne and Landiras (located in Gironde). Respectively, these consumed 7,000, 7,400 and 13,800 hectares worth of land. 

Fires destroyed five campsites located at the foot of the Pilat Dune.

In addition to damaging property and campsites, the fires also destroyed large swaths of forest, in Gironde especially, which will take "decades" to grow back.


France experienced low rainfall and drought from March to July 2022. Experts consider drought to have an 'invisible' impact - as it can be responsible for costly issues, such as cracks in homes.

"Drought will cost about €2.5 billion in 2022", France Assureurs told Le Parisien, adding that the organisation expects to see these costs continuing to rise as much of the country suffers the impacts of drought.

French Court of Auditors told Le Parisien that over half of France's 19.2 million single family homes are considered to be in areas of medium or high exposure regarding drought. Accordingly to Le Monde, some 3.3 million homes, or about 16 percent of the total, are located in high-risk areas.

Drought in particular is an issue expected to cause more problems in France in the future. In January-February 2023, the country saw 32 consecutive days without any significant rainfall, breaking records for previous winter droughts.

In response, France's environment minister, Christophe Béchu, held an emergency meeting with local authorities on Monday to address the severe shortage of rain over the winter, which risks plunging the country into another punishing drought this summer.

READ MORE: How likely are droughts and water restrictions in France in summer 2023?

Looking ahead

Economically, France Assureurs expects that the cost of claims related to climate disasters could reach up to €143 billion in the next thirty years.

"For drought in particular, insurers predict a tripling of the amount of claims", France Assureurs told Le Parisien.


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