Understanding Loss and Damage: Addressing the unavoidable impacts of climate change

Briefing 13-07-2022

Many consequences of climate change are already hard to reverse, and extreme weather events will become more frequent in the future. That shows a need to discuss which climate impacts are difficult or impossible to adapt to, and a need to address losses and damages. All regions will be affected by climate change, but the extent of loss and damage will vary between locations. Although the concept of Loss and Damage (L&D) is not new, it is still quite vague and not well defined in climate policy. It has been discussed at many United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conferences of Parties (COP), and some mechanisms to support countries facing losses and damages have been established. One of the biggest challenges with L&D is the framing of the concept itself. Developing and developed countries have differing views on its definition as well as its urgency, which has resulted in limited progress on the issue. A key issue on which stakeholders find it hard to agree is financing L&D. Developed country stakeholders tend to argue that L&D could be financed by existing climate funds, insurance schemes, humanitarian aid, or risk management, while many developing countries call for financial mechanisms directed specifically towards L&D. At the UNFCCC climate conference in Glasgow in November 2021 (COP26), the European Union was open to discussing L&D as a topic but hesitant about creating a dedicated L&D fund. The topic is expected to be one of the main focus areas on the agenda of the forthcoming COP27 in Egypt.