Does using knowledge politically to explain or justify predetermined policy positions make a difference? Most theory suggests no. This article traces how developing country negotiators used knowledge to further their interests in loss and damage (L&D) negotiations from 2003 to 2013. The analysis shows an institutional effect, whereby knowledge was used to establish L&D as a theme under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the same time, an indirect effect emerges at the individual level as knowledge provides actors with a sense of clarity and legitimacy that strengthens their resolve in defending political positions, leaving surprising traces during moments of bargaining. These insights invite critical reflections on the normative dimensions of political knowledge use.