Loss and Damage from Climate Change

by | Dec 25, 2018

Climate change is causing loss and damage for people and places across the globe.

Climate change is with us—the impacts of which are wide-reaching and diverse, and comprise physical and human dimensions. Over the last few years, an increasing body of scholarship has documented and demonstrated how these impacts are causing loss and damage for people and places across the globe. This too has been as diverse and far-reaching as the impacts themselves. Given this growth in scholarship and evidence from this field, a stock take on what we know already and identification of directions for future research is discussed in WIREs Climate Change.

Based on a quantitative review of academic publications (n = 122) in the field of climate change loss and damage, a prominent number of themes, gaps, and opportunities emerged. To date, researchers have primarily focused on technical and political questions, and in turn have produced many practical and descriptive accounts of loss and damage. As expected, economic dimensions of loss and damage have been prioritized given that it is far easier to quantify and monetize losses that can be traded in markets; although, several studies have begun to conceptualize non-economic dimensions, such as loss of sense of place and culture, among many others. Studies have revealed how loss and damage is predominately conceptualized as something that is beyond adaptation, which has been reported in both current and future contexts.

Numerous future research opportunities were evident from this review: a need to understand how transformational change might occur; what people value and how they can engage with loss and grief; a greater exploration of those most vulnerable to loss and damage; and analyses that are more policy-relevant and critical in orientation. McNamara and Jackson hope their review will provide some clarity of what has been achieved thus far, and encourage further critical multidisciplinary scholarship into the future where climate change loss and damage will likely continue to increase.


Kindly contributed by Karen E McNamara and Guy Jackson, The University of Queensland.


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