Addressing Loss and Damage from Climate Change

Broadly speaking, loss and damage (L&D) is harm caused by climate change. In climate policy discourse, L&D refers to the negative impacts of climate change which cannot be avoided by mitigation, adaptation, or disaster risk management. The issue is inherently related to climate justice and the impact on poor and vulnerable people, and therefore a fundamental concern for Catholics. Based on the analysis of L&D presented in this paper (and considering the recent creation of a global Loss and Damage fund) the report puts forth the following recommendations:

  1. Ensure that the framework which is put in place to guide operations of the L&D fund is just, fair, comprehensive, accessible, and centered in the principle of subsidiarity
  2. For the US, encourage policymakers to recognize and align policy towards addressing loss and damage
  3. Advocate for debt cancellation. Sovereign debt is drawing resources away from climate adaptation and hampering the ability to address the losses and damages of climate change
  4. Engage in outreach and education of US policymakers to raise awareness of L&D and enable these leaders to begin considering solutions

To combat global warming and loss and damage, the world needs more cooperation and investments. Climate-related weather events devastate the lives of the most vulnerable people by causing heavy human, social, emotional, and financial costs. Additionally, they can weaken governments and institutions, as well as lead to conflict. The need to build climate resilience is greater than ever. 

Published March 2023