Addressing loss and damage, or just damage control?

10 June 2015

ECO has heard whispers that adaptation and loss and damage belong to the same family. Here it is, for the public record: loss and damage to property, territory, ecosystems, food production, lives and livelihoods are effects that would not have happened without climate change. It is something that cannot be truly adapted to.

Even if we manage to stay below 1.5°C, and invest heavily in adaptation, we are not and will not be able to adapt to all climate change impacts. How do you adapt if your island is bound to disappear under the rising sea before the end of the century? Or if you are set to experience category 5 cyclones every year? Adaptation in these cases means only coping with the situation and suffering losses along the way. Adaptation has its limits.

Affecting over 160,000 people, Cyclone Pam is a sad but telling example of what the future could bring. Warmer average ocean temperatures likely increased Cyclone Pam’s strength and ferocity.

ECO reminds you that there is only one scenario to really reduce anticipated loss and damage: high mitigation and high adaptation. We also need to face reality and prepare to compensate for the loss and damage that the most vulnerable people are already facing, and will increasingly face, regardless of the climate scenario we adopt. This is a massive social injustice, as vulnerable groups have typically been the least responsible climate change.

At any rate, we will not be able to avoid climate impacts entirely, so responsibility must be taken now!

Addressing loss and damage, or just damage control?

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