At the 2015 international climate talks in Paris, loss and damage constituted one of the most prominent - and divisive - issues for negotiators. The idea of loss and damage reflects a growing recognition that not all climate change impacts can or will be avoided through reductions of greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) or adjustments to climatic changes (adaptation): Some adverse impacts are already 'locked in' as a result of past, current and projected future emissions.

Loss and damage is an ambiguous and multifaceted concept that involves difficult legal, political, scientific, and ethical questions. Although it has been a formal agenda item in UN climate negotiations since 2010, there is no international agreement on what exactly loss and damage is, let alone how it should be tackled.

This GGI Policy Brief looks at how discussions on loss and damage have evolved over time, unpacking the competing interpretations that have been attached to the concept. It also explores alternative framings, opportunities for compromise and practical ways forward, both within and outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).