Climate Change and Damages
Forthcoming in: Cinnamon Carlarne, Kevin Grey and Richard Tarasofsky (eds.) ‘Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change Law’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (2016)
Posted: 5 Aug 2015 Last revised: 16 Sep 2015
Date Written: December 30, 2014
While negotiations on a global deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions continue in slow motion, the pace of climatic change gains momentum. Higher than ever atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations1 increase the likelihood and frequency of extreme weather events, as well as the probability of slow onset changes. These events can have adverse effects for, and impose associated damages on countries, communities, and individuals due to the uncertainty and volatility associated with the rising pace of climate change. In the future, impacts from combinations of extreme weather and slow onset events are expected to induce even more severe damages. In the context of the UN-climate regime, climate related damages are currently understood as “the actual and/or potential manifestation of impacts associated with climate change (in developing countries) that negatively affect human and natural system”.
However, an effective response to such damages is not yet in place. Against this background, the purpose of this chapter is to explore the legal understanding of climate change damages in public international law. In order to pursue this quest, Part I begins by exploring how we define and deal with damages, in particular environmental damages, in international law, before inquiring more closely into the question of the legal consequences of damages in international law. Based upon this foundation, Part II examines the more specific question of what are ”climate damages”? Having explored the concept of climate damages, Part III then delves more deeply into complex questions of causation and contribution. Finally, Part IV concludes.
Keywords: climate damages, loss and damages, causality, contribution
JEL Classification: K33, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation