Loss and damage refers to the irreversible economic and non-economic costs of both extreme weather events such as hurricanes, heatwaves, drought and wildfires, and slow onset climate disasters such as sea-level rise and melting glaciers. It’s about holding the biggest fossil fuel polluters liable for the pain and suffering already caused by the climate crisis, separately and in addition to securing climate finance for mitigation and adaptation to help developing nations prepare for what’s coming.
Economic costs include the lives, livelihoods, homes, food systems and territory irreversibly lost, while the harder to quantify non-economic costs refer to the loss of culture, identity, sovereignty, human dignity, biodiversity, and psychological well being. The most serious losses and damages are being felt by the poorest countries – by and large those who’ve contributed least to global heating. As a result, funding for loss and damage has become a central tenet in demands for climate justice or, in other words, climate action that addresses the inequities behind the climate crisis.