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PwC: Loss & Damage at COP18

By Rob Starr, Content Manager,

With no early end to the UN climate negotiations in sight, Loss and Damage is proving to be one of the most contentious issues at the Doha COP. This is the first time that Loss and Damage has made it into the final text, and heated exchanges are expected in the closing plenary.

For Small Island States and Least Developed Countries this is a totemic issue, which fundamentally underpins development rights – everything they think the negotiations are about. The worry is that a focus on Loss and Damage could hold back progress on tackling emissions growth and increasing finance to support mitigation and adaptation. It certainly won’t do anything to drive up ambition in emissions reduction targets.

The proposals are an inevitable compromise, but they put Loss and Damage firmly on the agenda for Warsaw, in 2013, and beyond. And with concern growing that the 2 degree target could soon be out of reach, this issue can only grow in importance.

The United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar show a subtle, unsettling shift in the global climate change debate. Just four or five years ago, the debate was sharply focused on how much we should cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, and how society could adapt to modest climate change impacts. Now, the most vulnerable countries are discussing how they will cope when climate change causes unavoidable losses of crops and fisheries, infrastructure and homes – and human lives. The shorthand for this new and growing debate is “Loss and Damage” from climate change.



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