1st Edition

Rectifying Climate Injustice Reparations for Loss and Damage

By Laura García-Portela Copyright 2025
    168 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides an account of how rectificatory justice for climate change loss and damage is possible and provides an extensive response to its challenges.


    Using the capabilities approach, Laura García-Portela argues that loss and damage occur after climate change related harm has taken place. She differentiates between economic damage, non-economic losses, and non-economic damage, and categorizes a variety of material and symbolic reparative measures that correspond to various forms of loss and damage. The author also examines the main rectificatory justice principles: the polluter pays principle (PPP) and the beneficiary pays principle (BPP) and argues that some of the most important challenges when applying the PPP to loss and damage can be answered by providing an alternative moral grounding for the principle. This alternative relies on a prima facie duty to satisfy obligations that have been left unsatisfied by previous actions. Further, the author examines how the latest developments in attribution science can help in developing a rectificatory account for loss and damage, an approach that has not been considered in depth by climate justice scholars so far. In this way, this book solves some practical and moral concerns with a direct principle of historical responsibility and explains why and how we should rely on this principle to rectify climate change loss and damage.


    Striving to improve the reader’s understanding of loss and damage as outlined by The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of climate justice, environmental justice and environmental ethics.



    1.     An international mechanism for loss and damage

    1.1  A brief history of loss and damage

    1.2  Contributing to an International Mechanism for Loss and Damage

    1.3  The contested role of compensation in climate negotiations

    2.     A terminological note

    3.     Philosophical Methodology

    3.1  General methodology: reflective equilibrium

    3.2  Climate justice specific methodology

    4.     Assumptions and limitations 4.1  The scope of justice: recipients and duty-bearers of climate justice

    4.2  Sufficientarianism: background theory of distributive justice

    5.     Summary of chapters


    Chapter One: A minimal capabilities-based approach

    1.     Life disruptions as harm and the minimal understanding of loss and damage

    2.     A minimal capabilities-based account of loss and damage.

    3.     Answering some challenges to an ex-post categorization of L&D

    4.      Conceptual clarifications and types of reparation for loss and damage

    4.1  The notions of ‘loss’ and ‘damage’ in loss and damage

    4.2 Reparations for economic damage, non-economic losses, and non-economic damage

    5.     Conclusions


    Chapter Two: In search for a justified rectificatory justice principle

    1.     Two Objections against the Polluter Pays Principle

    2.     The Beneficiary Pays Principle and Some Intuitive Reactions to the Objections

    3.     The Causation Objection and the Beneficiary Pays Principle

    4.     The Excusable Ignorance Objection and Fairness Considerations

    4.1  A fresh look at the Excusable Ignorance Objection

    4.2  Fairness Considerations, the Beneficiary Pays Principle, and Replies to Some Objections.

    5.     Conclusions

    Chapter Three: Reasons awaiting satisfaction

    1.     The continuity thesis and the Continuity Account

    2.     The Continuity Account and the objections against the Polluter Pays Principle

    3.     Alternative accounts

    3.1  Strict liability

    3.2  Counterfactual liability

    3.3  Outcome responsibility

    4.     Conclusions


    Chapter Four: Climate Harm and Attribution Science

    1.     Attribution methods: the probabilistic and the storyline approach 2.     The reaction and criticism of the PEA community towards the storyline approach 3.     The storyline approach and the criticism of overstatement 4.     On how the probabilistic approach is affected by similar objections 5.     Conclusions


    Chapter Five: Towards a Rectificatory Policy Mechanism for Loss and Damage

    1.   Towards an adequacy-for-purpose view for attribution methods

    2.   An adequacy-for-purpose view for rectifying climate injustice

    3.   Distributing liability and achieving rectificatory justice

    4.   The Political Feasibility Objection

    4.1 Introducing and exploring the feasibility concern

    4.2 Motivational and psychological aspects of the Political Feasibility Objection

     5.   Conclusions


    Final Conclusions




    Laura García-Portela is an Assistant Professor at the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics, at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Before that, she held postdoctoral positions at the PhilETAS (Philosophy of Engineering, Technology and Science) research group, based at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, Germany) and the Environmental Sciences and Humanities Institute at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). She has also held visiting, research and teaching positions at the University of Valencia (Spain), Keele University (UK) and the University of Washington (US). She graduated in summer 2021 at the Department of Philosophy and the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Climate Change at the University of Graz. Her dissertation was awarded the Luis Díez del Corral Prize from the Center of Political and Constitutional Studies in Spain (research centered attached to the Spanish Ministry of Presidency) and the Roland Atefie Preis from the Austrian Academy of Science. Her work lies at the intersection between political philosophy, philosophy of climate science and philosophy of climate law, and has been published in numerous international journals.