The scientific consensus is that human-caused climate change increases the frequency and severity of climate-related events overall and also can compound the effects of natural climate variability, such as El Niño cycles, leading to more destructive climate impacts and greater losses and damage.
These impacts are particularly felt in developing countries although they have made far smaller contributions to global warming than developed countries.
“Loss and damage” is a general term used in UN climate negotiations to refer to the consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to, or when options exist but a community doesn’t have the resources to access or utilize them.
Since the formation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the early 1990s, vulnerable nations have been calling on developed countries to provide financial assistance that can help them address loss and damage.
Momentum for providing funding to address loss and damage finally gained steam during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021 and continued at the Bonn UN climate negotiations in Germany in June 2022. So far, a handful of developed countries have signalled some level of support for loss and damage financing including Canada, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Scotland and the Belgian province of Wallonia. At the COP27 summit in Egypt this coming November, countries will have a chance to finally establish a mechanism to address this critical need.
Denmark became the first central government of a developed country to propose funding devoted to “loss and damage” – which refers to those ravages of climate-related disasters which are so extreme that no protection against them is possible.
Scotland has also offered funds for loss and damage, pledging £2m at the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow last November, and the government of the Belgian region of Wallonia pledged €1m (£0.9m) towards administration. Denmark is the first central or federal government to make a dedicated pledge.