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Tackling loss & damage – a new role for the climate regime?

This paper describes the concept of ‘loss and damage’ and explores the possible future direction of the ongoing climate change negotiations. It notes that legally, mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts, as well as for Annex II countries, assisting with adaptation, are clear obligations contained in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. Thus, the approach to climate change has been to prevent, if possible, and to manage impacts through adaptation. ‘Loss and damage’ was introduced in 2010 to the UNFCCC agenda; while still associated on the negotiation agenda with adaptation, it goes well beyond that essentially referring to the damage that cannot be avoided through mitigation or adaptation. This paper highlights that although ‘climate damage’ has been a topic of very limited legal interest, it is worth examining, given the dynamic development of both science which predicts significant damage and the UNFCCC negotiations.