ご覧のページは旧ウェブサイトのアーカイブです。
最新の情報は新しいIGESのウェブサイト (https://www.iges.or.jp/jp)をご覧ください。

You are viewing an archive, visit the current website for the latest information.

Loss and Damage - Adverse Impact of Climate Change

In December 2012, Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines took more than 1,000 lives, and we can also recall the recent Hurricane Sandy which struck an area of New York City last year in the U.S. Climate change has resulted in an increase in extreme climatic events such as floods, cyclones, droughts, sea level rise, as well as increased salinity, wild fires, erratic rainfall, hot spells and severity of cold. This month, we hear from Dr. Atiq Rahman who led the recent discussion on "Loss and Damage" at COP18.
Suk Sunhee
Atiq Rahman
Executive Director, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS)

A lead author of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Awarded the "Champion of the Earth 2008" by UNEP for the Asia Pacific Region. Also the recipient of the ‘Paribesh Padak 2008’ the highest Environment Award of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Completed his Ph.D. on solid state chemistry and low energy process from Brunel University of West London, UK in 1977. Spent the next 14 years teaching and researching at the Universities of Oxford and Aberdeen in UK and Haute Alsace in France.


February 2013

Loss and Damage
- Adverse Impact of Climate Change

Atiq Rahman
Executive Director, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS)


"Loss and Damage" issue has getting attention

---How has the issue of "loss and damage" become important within Climate Change Adaptation research?

Rahman :
Climate change is the greatest threat faced by mankind today. The impact of greenhouse gas emissions and their accumulation has given rise to temperature increases, resulting in the destabilisation of the climatic system as we know it.

Responses to this situation have been undertaken by communities, ecosystems, enterprises and institutions. These responses have been broadly defined as "adaptation" to climate change induced events.

Over the last two decades, adaptation measures are becoming more visible across the world and an adaptation science is emerging. Adaptation has become central to climate negotiations. However, the impacts are not only confined to the poor, as has been evidenced by the very recent and unprecedented severity of Hurricane Sandy affecting east coast of USA, and by the wildfires in Australia.

What is becoming more evident is that there is a "limit to adaptation". This is more true for small island developing states (SIDs) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) which have been demanding that the climate convention addresses the question of "loss and damage" due to impacts of climate change. As climate finance-related discourses and approaches move forward, there is a need to undertake research, develop methodologies and determine real financial, tangible and non-tangible loss and damage to climate-induced impacts by societies, ecosystem and economies.

More recently the concept of loss and damage is drawing attention and is in its early stages of research. Methodologies and tools are finding new emphasis. Some groups in several countries, notably Germany and Bangladesh, are giving early leadership to the practices of research on loss and damage.


Climate change impacts and recent observations

Rahman :
The climate change elements are mainly 1) variations in temperature, 2) precipitation (rainfall), 3) cyclonic events and 4) sea level rise (SLR). These will have larger impacts on different major sectors (water, agriculture, health, infrastructure, fisheries and forestry, etc.) on which most of the global population depend for their livelihoods. According to a recent estimate, annual economic loss due to climatic disasters increased to USD 200 billion in 2010 from a few billion dollars in 1980 (IPCC, 2011). The Least Developed Countries will be adversely affected and their loss will be greater than that of middle income and rich countries because of their low level of resilience.

Women play a vital role in community-based GHG
Airal view of inundation due to Aila (Photo: BCAS)

It has been discussed by many international organisations and scientists but still there is no agreed definition of "loss and damage" at the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (Surminski, et al., 2012). The World Bank (2010) defines damage as the "total or partial destruction of physical assets existing in the affected area". It further explains that the monetary value of damage may be expressed in terms of replacement costs according to prices prevailing just before the event. The losses are "changes in economic flows arising from the disaster". It has been argued that "damage can be considered to refer to partial loss or partial damage", such as to infrastructure and human livelihoods, which can be repaired, while loss means the "complete loss" of something (e.g. human life or biodiversity, or land that goes under water, etc).


Loss and damage negotiation at UNFCCC process

---Have you seen any progress in negotiations on "Loss and Damage"? If so, what was the result and what do we need to keep our eyes on in the future?

Rahman :
The Cancun Agreement of the COP16 is the first official document of the UNFCCC that recognised the need to improve understanding on the issue of loss and damage and associated adverse impacts of extreme weather events and slow onset events. COP 16 to the UNFCCC decided to establish a work programme on approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries.

COP 17 further emphasised the need for clear understanding of the loss and damage issue and elaboration of relevant aspects under three thematic areas. These thematic areas are: a) assessing the risk of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change and the current knowledge on the same, b) a range of approaches to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including impacts related to extreme weather events and slow onset events, taking into consideration experience at all levels and, c) the role of the Convention in enhancing the implementation of approaches to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

COP 18 in Doha, Qatar made a comprehensive textual decision with an agreement on the need for a strategic response to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change. Paragraph 9 of the draft of COP 18 also decides to establish an international mechanism to address loss and damage. It also acknowledges the need for financial, technological and capacity building support but unfortunately there is no firm commitment in any aspect.


Loss and Damage in the Asia Pacific Region

---Could you explain about one of the serious cases on sudden onset events or slow onset events in Asia with concrete examples?

Rahman :
It is well recognised that “loss and damage” is a crucial issue for both communities and policy makers. The affected and vulnerable communities have been facing the limits of adaptation at the community level. To address this need, the Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative supported by CDKN carried out research to find out how the impact of climate change on society leads to loss and damage among vulnerable households. This question was explored in five countries (Bang¬ladesh, Bhutan, Gambia, Kenya and Micronesia) across three major regions.

Vulnerable woman and children
Vulnerable woman and children seeking safe place
during Aila period. (Photo: BCAS)
On the coast of Bangladesh, saline tolerant varieties have enabled farmers in Bangladesh to continue producing rice despite gradually increasing salinity levels. Due to Cyclone Aila, which hit the country in May 2009, the salinity content of the soils in the research area increased to a level that even the improved cultivars could not handle. Thus, the cyclone did not only result in immediate loss of harvest, but the higher salinity level it left behind also significantly decreased rice harvests in the consecutive years. It is estimated that between 2009 and 2011 Cyclone Aila resulted in a loss of USD 1.9 million for the four villages surveyed.

Future of “Loss and Damage” research

---Could you tell us about the future of "Loss and Damage" research?

Rahman :
As stated, these are very early days in the field of loss and damage. In the immediate future, the following are some of the initiatives that are likely to emerge with some rigor.

(a) The need to establish a scientific basis for assessing loss and damage in the context of climate change induced events.
(b) A comparison of the different paradigms and interpretations of loss and damage.
(c) Implementation of a wide ranging set of case studies and trial applications of tools and methods.
(d) Aim to bring higher reliability in the financial, tangible and intangible valuation of loss and damage, using multi-disciplinary approaches.
(e) Support and advance the articulation of international institutional arrangements for the UNFCCC and facilitate the discourse and the decision process.

Finally, as climate finance takes root and more MRV (measurable, reportable, verifiable) approaches for GHG emissions evolve, the outcome of loss and damage will assist in creating a fair and sustainable financing and allocation process, particularly to developing countries vulnerable to impacts of anthropogenic climate change induced events. Through identifying the various examples of adaptation practices, we can establish limits to adaptation and develop a regime of reliable valuation of quantification of loss and damage as a tool for fair resource allocation and move towards a world of climate justice.


---Thank you very much.


---------------
*Golam Rabbani, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) has contributed to this story.



About "Monthly Asian Focus: Observations on Sustainability"

Until 2010, IGES released "Top News on the Environment in Asia" on a yearly basis. For over 12 years since its establishment of IGES in 1998, "Top News" collected and organised information about environmental issues and policy trends in the region.

In January 2011, IGES launched the new web-based series "Monthly Asian Focus: Observations on Sustainability" in which leading environmental experts deliver their take on latest trends of sustainable Asia.

 

Go to top of page