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Justice for climate loss and damage

Wallimann-Helmer, Ivo
Climatic change 2015 v.133 no.3 pp. 469-480
climate, climate change, humans, social justice
This paper suggests a way to elaborate the ethical implications of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) as decided at COP 19 from the perspective of justice. It advocates three proposals. First, in order to fully understand the responsibilities and liabilities implied in the WIM, adaptation needs to be distinguished from loss and damage (L&D) on the basis of the different goals which should be attributed to adaptation and to L&D approaches. Second, the primary concern of the WIM should be compensatory justice. In case of climate L&D, three aspects of compensatory justice should be kept separate: corrective liability, remedial responsibility, and with regard to the resources available, fair remedy. Third, it is crucial to distinguish between recoverable damage and irrecoverable or at least not fully recoverable loss. This distinction is crucial because it informs the principles of fair remedy and because damage and loss may differ in their relevance for the stability and functioning of a human system.