Regardless of how the challenge of climate change is framed, one cannot escape its significant and extensive equitable dimensions. Equity considerations are omnipresent for the simple and stark reason that climate change does not affect people, communities, or regions equally. The ability of people and communities to adapt and be resilient to climate change, or to reduce their emissions, differs based not only on where they are located, but on many often interconnected factors, such as socioeconomic status, gender, age, race, ethnicity, and culture. Equity is also highly relevant to the issue of responsibility and accountability for climate change, given the vastly different levels of responsibility among different states and individuals and the reality that those least responsible for climate change are often among those most affected by its impacts. Finally, equity is central to understanding the deep implications that climate change has not only for the planet's human inhabitants, but for all life on earth and the ecosystems that sustain it. This chapter examines loss and damage through the lens of equity, arguing that loss and damage must be integrally linked with mitigation and adaptation goals, and that it must be examined using an intersectional and contextualized approach to avoid perpetuating and reinforcing existing patterns of systemic discrimination. When the policy responses to the climate problem are blind to this injustice, they can contribute to a 'double burden' of climate change, whereby the most vulnerable people bear the brunt not only of what climate change is doing to the planet, but also the climate policy response. Ethics and a human conscience require us to acknowledge and directly face these inequities, especially when confronting the staggering problem of loss and damage. An equity-informed approach to loss and damage within broader climate policy discussions is critical to ensure a response to climate change that safeguards human rights, respects Indigenous rights, promotes environmental justice, furthers intergenerational equity, and protects the ecological foundations upon which all life depends.
Other access options
Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials
Log in with your Elgar Online account