Posted on 13 October 2020
It is critical that targets and contributions relevant to loss and damage be included in national climate plans, write Sandeep Chamling Rai and Sunil Acharya.
In the context of escalating climate impacts, cutting down greenhouse gas emissions and measures to adapt against climate change will be insufficient. With some negative impacts already locked in the climate system, losses and damages are now unavoidable.
There are broadly two event types which result in loss and damage: extreme events like floods, cyclones, drought, heatwaves or storm surges; and slow onset events like sea-level rise, ocean acidification, glacial retreat, land degradation, biodiversity loss, and/or desertification.
Disaster risk reduction, if addressed in a climate context, will help build resilience and reduce loss and damage impacts. Climate change will accelerate the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather. Averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage will help lessen the impacts of disasters like these.
Loss and damage must be included in NDCs
Addressing loss and damage must not remain isolated from broader climate action. Anchoring loss and damage in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs, or national climate plans) provides the necessary attention to deliver policies and measures that drive climate actions at a national level. Our report
explores this in depth.
Achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are a clear indicator of progress in delivering on the Paris Agreement goals; escalating losses and damages are a clear indicator of failure. This is the backdrop against which losses and damages need to be understood in order to drive action to implement the required corrective measures.
Ultimately, integrating loss and damage in the NDCs can be instrumental in mobilizing increasing ambition to implement the Paris Agreement. In addition, as loss and damage is a comparatively new issue, it has not been integrated at the national level planning and response. There is a need to link it with the NDC enhancement process to include it as part of holistic climate action.
Recommendations on how to include loss and damage in NDCs
Here are the four recommendations on how policymakers can anchor loss and damage in NDCs:
- Define Loss and damage in the national context: The extent and type of loss and damage that is occurring differs from country to country. It is important for countries to include a definition of loss and damage in their national context in their NDC;
- Describe current and projected loss and damage – the scale of the challenge: Countries should describe the specific losses and damages that are already happening now. It is also recommended that projected losses and damages related to different sectors or geographies based on different emission and temperature rise scenarios be included, where possible;
- Highlight ongoing response to address loss and damage: Countries should highlight ongoing initiatives being undertaken to minimize and address losses and damages. These include policies, on-the-ground implementation and financing measures;
- Indicate specific contributions (targets) on loss and damage:
- Data and Information: Consider measures to improve climate change related loss and damage data gathering and analysis, and information systems, including scientific projections.
- Research: Identify potential loss and damage impacts. Document anticipated research needs and gaps on loss and damage.
- Capacity Building: Build knowledge and capacity for developing and using loss and damage assessment tools. In addition to this, countries can also report on the human and technical capacities and related gaps when it comes to dealing with loss and damage.
- Technology: Highlight technological innovations the countries are undertaking and the technology gap to address loss and damage based on national circumstances.
- Institutional setup: Review the suitability of existing institutions and consider expanding their mandate or establishing new institutions as required to deal with loss and damage.
- Loss and damage finance: Articulate scale of loss and damage finance needs and ways to strengthen financing mechanisms.
Safeguarding people and nature from the impacts of climate change requires collective action from all countries and stakeholders. And in this regard, the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage
must also escalate the importance of anchoring loss and damage in enhanced NDCs.
We are at a pivotal moment. We need to unite to address the climate crisis - and to reverse loss and damage, we must act now.
Sandeep Chamling Rai is WWF’s Senior advisor for Global Climate Adaptation Policy. Sunil Acharya is Practical Actions’ Regional Advisor for Climate & Resilience.