Loss and damage from climate change: Climate vulnerable groups in Arctic States


While the impacts of climate change can negatively affect persons in both developed and developing countries, the notion of climate change loss and damage has typically been associated with the latter. Indeed, the mandate of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, the institution tasked with addressing loss and damage in international climate change law, extends to developing countries only. However, the Paris Agreement’s article 8 on loss and damage is not limited to impacts occurring in developing states alone. The indiscriminate nature of article therefore triggers a question as to where loss and damage can be said to take place, with consequences for whose harms can be said to qualify as loss and damage. This paper examines that question, considering the implications that an exclusive focus on developing countries would have for climate vulnerable groups in developed countries, such as Arctic indigenous peoples. The paper highlights that if loss and damage is limited to impacts that take place in developing countries, the climate change harms experienced by Arctic indigenous peoples will be overlooked. At the same time, the paper recognises that the beneficiaries of an international loss and damage remedy may need to be limited, and that drawing lines according to the developing/developed country distinction is one way to achieve this. In light of this need, it is argued that it is necessary to explore the potential of other bodies of law to fill the remedial void left by loss and damage rules, if limited to developing countries only. International and/or regional human rights law is identified as having particular salience here, due to the overlap of the application of human rights law to climate change impacts and international climate change law on loss and damage.


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