Recognition of the loss and damage vulnerable countries face due to the inevitable impacts of climate change is emerging as a major success story in the aftermath of this year’s United Nations climate change conference in Katowice, Poland.
While the final outcome of COP 24 fell far short of what was needed to address many aspects of the climate crisis, Climate Analytics says the conference acknowledged developing countries’ long-standing demand that loss and damage be addressed in implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“We can now say: they succeeded,” the organization states in a post-COP blog post. ‘Under the newly-adopted guidelines for implementing the Paris Agreement, vulnerable countries will have a place to report climate-related losses [and] what they are doing to deal with them, which could well include information on the help they need. What is more, assessing information on loss and damage will be part of the five-yearly exercise of evaluating progress towards implementing the Paris Agreement.”
It’s a paper victory, still short of the financial support vulnerable countries will need. But “this is all great news,” write analysts Olivia Serdeczny, Dawn Pierre-Nathoniel, and Linda Siegele, even though “it also means a lot of work ahead. Countries will need to actually report their experiences and activities—implemented and planned—in terms of loss and damage. They often lack the capacities to do this.” Which means “the already booming scientific literature on adaptation limits, observed impacts, and attribution will be ever more relevant.”
Ultimately, including loss and damage in the Paris rule book “has opened the opportunity to feed these kinds of information into the political process,” the three authors conclude. “There is reason to hope this process will create the evidence base to comprehensively reflect the costs of climate change, and to inform policy responses to foreseeable unavoided impacts. This means—all hands on deck to help countries in their reporting, and to create the scientific foundation for informed, collective action.”