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and Damage (L&D) has gained increasing attention as the “third pillar” of
climate change research and policy, alongside mitigation and adaptation.
However, the L&D research and policy community has not reached any consensus
on the kinds of impacts that constitute loss and damage, whom is most affected,
and where, so empirical research supporting L&D is urgently required. We provide
the first comparative assessment of two contrasting theoretical approaches to
L&D: capital theory and the capabilities approach. Our analysis of residential
property value and housing capability losses caused by Hurricane Michael in
Gulf County, Florida, reveals that the theory underpinning how L&D is approached
greatly affects the assessment of whom and where are most impacted. Net monetary
losses of residential property value totaled more than $250 million in Gulf
County, and evaluation under capital theory highlighted Cape San Blas and St.
Joe Beach as most impacted areas, associated with higher value properties and
consequently high monetary losses. In contrast, the capabilities approach
revealed 17% of housing units were lost and high proportional value losses left
many residents in sub-optimal housing conditions, with North port St. Joe,
Highland View, and Wewahitchka emerging as highly impacted areas under this
approach. The policy response to L&D from climate disasters, whether
anthropogenic or not, is also affected by the theoretical foundation, and we
argue that the capabilities approach provides a more comprehensive and
effective framework to address L&D than does capital theory.