Identifying the policy space for climate loss and damage

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Science  21 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6310, pp. 290-292
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2514

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Currently planned greenhouse gas mitigation efforts would not prevent climate warming from going beyond 2°C as aspired to in the 2015 Paris Agreement (1), adding to climate-related impacts already under way (2). Although climate adaptation has been strengthened in the Paris Agreement, climate-related risks may exceed adaptation possibilities of communities and countries. To this effect, an important decision in the Paris Agreement was the endorsement of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damage (L&D) (3). This established L&D as a distinct pillar of climate negotiations, yet with an unclearly defined remit. With a policy framework yet to emerge, the 22nd Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in November in Marrakesh will review the structure, mandate, and effectiveness of the WIM, first institutionalized in 2013. Risk science can provide a rationale and delineate a policy space for L&D, composed of curative measures for unavoided and unavoidable impacts, and transformative measures for avoiding and managing increasingly intolerable risks.