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'Climate change is bringing the potential for new risks not previously accounted for'

Published on 24 July 2023

Following news of wildfires sweeping through Rhodes, Corfu and southern Europe, Partner Lucy Dyson and Partner Toby Savage, both in the international property and casualty team at international law firm RPC, warn of the increasing risk of wildfire in the UK:

Lucy Dyson, Partner at international law firm RPC, commented: "Climate change and the rising risk of wildfires are having a huge impact across the world, particularly in southern Europe with the current devastating situation affecting Rhodes and now Corfu.

"Wildfires this summer have also severely affected Canada and the United States. Some homeowners have been told their properties are no longer insurable and some insurers are pulling out of fire-prone areas altogether.

"The wildfires in California were a primary reason behind Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) filing for bankruptcy in 2019, after the company came under pressure from billions of dollars in claims, following allegations that poorly maintained equipment had contributed to the start of wildfires in 2017 and 2018." 

"In the UK we don't have the same scale of open land that wildfires could rip through, but we are still at risk, with that risk rising as heatwaves become a more regular and sustained occurrence."

Toby Savage, also a Partner at international law firm RPC, commented that wildfires could pose an increased risk for energy and industrial assets both in the UK and internationally.

He says: "Climate change is bringing with it the potential for new risks and extreme weather events in areas and locations where those have not previously been accounted for.

"While the UK does not have the same vast swathes of land in the US, Canada, Australia and as seen in previous weeks, southern Europe - where wildfires have swept across hundreds of square miles - the potential damage caused by such an event to energy and industrial assets could be devastating."