Recent flooding in Cumbria caused massive damage

A catastrophe caused by climate change is seen as the biggest potential threat to the global economy in 2016, according to a survey of 750 experts conducted by the World Economic Forum.

The annual assessment of risks conducted by the WEF before its annual meeting in Davos on 20-23 January showed that global warming had catapulted its way to the top of the list of concerns.

A failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation was seen as likely to have a bigger impact than the spread of weapons of mass destruction, water crises, mass involuntary migration and a severe energy price shock – the first time in the 11 years of the Global Risks report that the environment has been in first place.

The report, prepared by the WEF in collaboration with risk specialists Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, comes a month after the deal signed in Paris to reduce carbon emissions. The WEF said evidence was mounting that inter-connections between risks were becoming stronger. It cited links between climate change and involuntary migration or international security, noting that these often had “major and unpredictable impacts”.