Chapter 4: Measuring the immeasurable: loss and damage from climate change in international law
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This Chapter identifies some of the assumptions about nature that underpin the conception of loss and damage from climate change and assesses whether these understandings are accurate. This exploration of underlying disciplinary beliefs is motivated by a concern that, so far, international lawyers have been unable to tackle environmental problems such as climate change effectively. It is possible that at the roots of our failure lie destructive and exploitative disciplinary perceptions of nature. This chapter identifies six assumptions that bear profitable investigation. The first four are that loss and damage arising from climate change is a) identifiable, b) calculable, c) compensable, and d) attributable. The final two assumptions, which seem, at least at first glance, not to do with nature but with justice, are that e) the concept of loss and damage for climate change may help deter irresponsible behavior, and f) it makes a much-needed gesture towards fairness. These two assumptions remain pertinent concerns even if loss and damage from climate change is not identifiable, calculable, compensable, or attributable. Upon examination, this chapter concludes that ultimately all six assumptions reduce nature to its commodification and exchange value, thus reproducing our discipline's harmful relationship with the natural environment. For this reason, there are risks that international laws on climate loss and damage may have unintended consequences, including that of potentially exacerbating climate change. These risks should be taken seriously and addressed because they echo existing patterns in international environmental and climate law.

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