Implications of Climate Change and Climate-induced Disasters for Individuals, Firms and the Insurance Sector (CLIMATE_AFFECT)

The Earth is experiencing rapid global warming. Little doubt remains that humans, by burning fossil fuels, are one of the main forces of this process. Most scientific studies conclude that living conditions on Earth will be hugely transformed due to global warming. Despite accumulating knowledge about climate change and its potentially bad consequences, humanity is not taking strong enough action to stop or at least substantially slow down global warming. How can this complacency be rationalized?

The project CLIMATE_AFFECT investigates the attitudes of individuals worldwide regarding climate change as well as their knowledge about climatic processes. Moreover, direct and indirect adaptation strategies for climate change will be analyzed. Thereby, migration will be a main issue. Another topic to be addressed is the impact of climate change on companies and how insurances can help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. The project’s findings can be used to inform policymakers and implement useful climate change policies.


Global warming is generally referred to as the rapid increase in the Earth’s global mean surface temperature. This process has two immediate consequences. The first is rising sea levels caused by melting glaciers. The second effect is a changing climate on Earth. Climate change happens on a long time scale, yet its increasingly shaping short-term weather patterns already today. It is expected that global warming will lead to more extreme events such as very hot or cold periods. Also rain patterns very likely will continue to change. Similarly, different types of natural disasters such as droughts, floods or severe storms may intensify and/or occur more often as climate on Earth heats up.

Such major shifts in the prevailing climate will necessarily have an impact on the natural world. For example, entire landscapes and ecological systems will be forced to adapt to rising sea levels, some regions are even at severe risk of being swamped forever. Also, extreme weather events and natural disasters are posing a threat to existing ecological systems.

The probable changes in the Earth’s climate and the natural world will very likely have far-reaching consequences for humanity, too. Due to rising sea levels or desertification whole regions could become uninhabitable causing major migratory movements. Furthermore, infectious diseases might spread in the wake of global warming. By the same token, climate-induced natural disasters could have adverse effects on human health. According to recent forecasts, another negative outcome could be severe losses in food production. With increasing food scarcity, famines and malnutrition will be inevitable in many regions. There is a long list with negative effects of climate change. Against this background it is indispensable to adopt quick and impactful measures to mitigate global warming. Therefore, more effective and efficient climate policies are needed.

Climate policies can only be implemented successfully if voters are convinced by their necessity in general and its value in specific cases.

The project’s first objective is to assess the knowledge and attitudes of individuals as well as businesses regarding climate change. In the process, the determinants of individuals’ and businesses’ knowledge and attitudes shall also be analyzed.

Most likely, people affected by climate change will modify their behaviors. Hence, the second objective concerns the possible behavioral adjustments of companies as well as individuals. With respect to the latter group, the impact on domestic and international migration will be analyzed as well.

In addition to behavioral change, possibilities how to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change are increasingly being discussed. Therefore, the project’s third objective is to investigate the importance of insurances in coping with climatic risks.

The project outcomes will offer policymakers important and detailed information about voters’ attitudes regarding climate change, the determinants of those attitudes, and how those attitudes might be influenced. Furthermore, the results will help evaluate the impact of climate change on the economy. The impact of different climatic risks and expected behavioral adjustments are also crucial information for businesses.

Prof. Dr. Michael Berlemann,
Head of research

+49 (0)40 6541-2860

Dr. Silke Bumann,
Project coordinator and researcher

+49 (0)40 6541-3347

Helmut Schmidt University
Chair of Political Economy and Empirical Economics
Holstenhofweg 85
22043 Hamburg

Currently the project is running in its first phase. All required data are being gathered and prepared for further analysis. This concerns household survey data from secondary sources, record data on climate change and natural disasters as well as data on the insurance sector. Moreover, a questionnaire for German companies is being prepared. This survey will take place in early summer of 2019. Besides, an extensive survey of the relevant literature is carried out.

The project involves researchers from Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, Ifo Institute Munich as well as several external researchers.

Core research team members

Prof. Dr. Michael Berlemann (HSU): econometrics, migration

Dr. Silke Bumann (HSU): econometrics, geodata, attitudes and knowledge regarding climate change

Timur Eckmann, M.Sc. (HSU): geodata

Erik Haustein, M.Sc. (HSU): migration, geodata

Marina Eurich, M.Sc. (HSU): geodata, attitudes and knowledge regarding climate change

Dr. Christian Hott (HSU): economics of the insurance sector, theory, empirical economics

Dr. Robert Lehmann (Ifo): ifo Business Climate Index, applied econometrics

Nada Maamoun, M.Sc. (HSU): political economy, climate negotiations

Judith Regner, M.Sc. (HSU): geography, geodata

Prof. Dr. M. Steinhardt (FU Berlin): microeconometrics, migration

Xuyen Tran, M.Sc. (HSU): macroeconometrics, development economics

External research partners

Prof. M. Beine, Ph.D. (Luxemburg University)

Prof. M. Skidmore, Ph.D. (Twente University)

Prof. Dr. M. Kalkuhl (Potsdam University)

Prof. Dr. T. Kuhlenkasper (University of Applied Sciences Pforzheim)

As the project advances, all relevant publications and discussion papers will be published on this site.

Currently, there are no announcements.


Letzte Änderung: 8. May 2020