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Concept of loss and damage of climate change – a new challenge for climate decision-making? a climate science perspective

Surminski, Swenja and Lopez, Ana (2015) Concept of loss and damage of climate change – a new challenge for climate decision-making? a climate science perspective. Climate and Development, 7 (3). pp. 267-277. ISSN 1756-5529

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Identification Number: 10.1080/17565529.2014.934770


Loss and damage (L&D) of climate change is a relatively new work stream of the international climate change regime. Lacking a clear official definition, L&D has triggered a debate about framing the topic, incorporating technical aspects of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation as well as political considerations such as the idea of compensation for vulnerable countries. This paper reviews the implications of L&D for decision-making with a special focus on the role of climate science. We identify three broad policy goals embedded in the discussion: creating awareness about the sensitivity of human and natural systems to climate change; developing risk reduction and risk management approaches to enhance adaptation, reduce vulnerability and build resilience and informing compensation mechanisms. For all of these, an understanding of the current and future climate-related L&D is needed. Existing decision-making frameworks can help deal with uncertainties and avoid a ‘wait and see’ mentality for most L&D decisions. The compensation component of L&D, however, offers a different dimension to the climate change discussion. While recognizing the political and moral reasons driving the debate around compensation, an increased focus on the complex and possibly unsolvable attribution question might put on hold efforts to integrate adaptation to climate change with wider development aims and DRR, blocking necessary action.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Centre for Analysis of Time Series
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2014 15:07
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2024 04:57
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, Munich Re.

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