• 18 November 2016

New quantitative scientific evidence for Loss and Damage launched at COP22

A photo from the ECI's Quantitative scientific evidence for Loss and Damage COP22 side-event

A photo from the ECI's Quantitative scientific evidence for Loss and Damage COP22 side-event, with Dr Fredi Otto far left.


In the second week of the COP22, the ECI co-organised a side-event with CICERO where new quantitative scientific evidence for Loss and Damage was presented.

For the first time ever, Dr Friederike Otto (Senior Researcher, ECI) and Dr Jan S. Fuglestvedt (Research Director CICERO, Norway) demonstrated that, in addition to quantitatively linking historic greenhouse gas emissions to global climate change, it is also possible to link historic emissions to extreme weather events.

"By assigning historical contributions you can thus indirectly assign responsibility from individual regions and countries to extreme weather events today,” Dr Otto explained. However, she recognised that the scientific methodology relied on certain political and ethical decisions. "How you do the accounting depends on choices that are not only scientific,” Dr Otto explains, "exact quantifications depend on certain political and ethical choices”.

The implications of this scientific methodology to provide quantitative evidence for loss and damage, was explored in the ensuing discussion, chaired by Ayman Cherkaoui, special advisor to the Morrocan COP22 delegation.

In addition to the scientific presentations, the side-event benefitted from contributions from Prof Lavanya Rajamani (International Environmental Law, New Delhi), painting the ‘big picture’ of these scientific developments potential impact on a global scale, and Dr Saleemul Huq (Director ICCAD, Bangladesh), who explored the issues down to the ground, with examples of practical applications of this scientific methodology.

The event raised lots of discussion and interest in the scientific work of Dr Otto, Dr Fuglestvedt and their colleagues, which is not yet published, opening up potential future collaborations and applications.

"The main power of quantitative scientific evidence could lie in recognising harm rather than liability,” Dr Otto concludes, saying that "powerful quantitative narratives have the potential to build momentum and to catalyse legislative and policy change on a national scale”.

"Powerful quantitative narratives have the potential to build momentum and to catalyse legislative and policy change on a national scale."

Dr Friederike Otto, Environmental Change Institute

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