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Bonn climate talks make slow progress ahead of COP 27 in Egypt

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
21 June 2022   |   3:52 am
Two weeks of intense work on technical issues and preparation of decisions for adoption at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh in November ended in Bonn with little progress, last week.

Activists flay developed nation’s hypocrisy

Two weeks of intense work on technical issues and preparation of decisions for adoption at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh in November ended in Bonn with little progress, last week.

Building on the many mandates that emerged from the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow last year, discussions held on a range of important topics, including the need for more ambitious climate action, deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, enhanced resilience to adapt to the effects of climate change and financial support for developing countries.

The conference has been the first opportunity for all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to meet, since adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact at COP26 last year.

In Glasgow, governments agreed a package of decisions that paved way for full implementation of the Paris Agreement. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said: “While much work remains, parties have made progress in several technical areas here in Bonn. Such steps are a key part of negotiations and important to achieve our overall goals. The world is moving closer to an overall shift towards implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“Major political decisions, notably on finance for loss and damage, need to be taken at COP27. We now need to ensure that Sharm el-Sheikh will truly be the place where important promises of the Paris Agreement are turned into reality.”

Key outstanding issues that still need to be resolved relate to building adaptation to the inevitable impacts of climate change, which include ever more frequent and intense heat waves, flood and storms, and loss and damage, along with necessary financial support. On the other hand, important work has been launched on urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation.

Delegates undertook the first technical dialogue of the Global Stocktake, designed to review collective progress towards achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), Marianne Karlsen, said: “The Global Stocktake and other discussions at the conference have demonstrated the many gaps that exist in climate action, but also the opportunities. I am heartened that governments and numerous stakeholders have been showcasing solutions, opportunities, innovations and best practices from throughout the world. And we have seen unprecedented engagement on the part of non-party stakeholders who have a key role to play in helping governments achieve their climate goals.”

At the Global Stocktake, Chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Hoesung Lee, reported that human activities have warmed the planet at a rate not seen in the past 2,000 years, putting the world on a path towards global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades.

The Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, said: “Science has been a central focus of this year’s Bonn Climate Change Conference. It is vital that the reports presented by the IPCC, as well as the science-policy interface, are reflected and that negotiators heed the call on the urgency of the climate challenge. We have seen some good progress here in Bonn. But governments need to urgently act on the stark warnings we have been hearing.”

Many participants at the Global Stocktake and in other fora of the Bonn meeting highlighted the need for increased financial support.

“The international community has yet to live up to its commitment to mobilise $100 billion yearly in climate finance for developing countries. And these countries are calling for an overall substantial increase in finance, especially finance for adaptation and loss and damage, which is crucial to building a more sustainable and resilient future,” the UN’s top climate change official Ms. Espinosa said.

“At COP27, progress needs to be demonstrated clearly and convincingly, along the alignment of financial flows with the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” she added.

MEANWHILE, climate change advocates said the Bonn Climate Conference showed the disconnect between the negotiation rooms and the reality on the ground of people suffering from climate-induced loss and damage, as discussions across various issues offered no new breakthroughs – on overall finance, adaptation and emission reduction actions.

This uncertainty and lack of leadership from rich polluters set up challenges ahead of the G7 summit in two weeks, and in building trust before COP27.

Despite their reassurances from COP26 to take finance and address loss and damage seriously through the last two weeks, rich countries, particularly the EU, Switzerland and the USA, consistently stalled progress on discussions on loss and damage on the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage and on putting loss and damage finance on the formal agenda towards getting an outcome on a loss and damage finance facility from COP27.

The stark warnings from the IPCC report earlier this year and recent climate catastrophes all around the world seem to have made no dent on the moral and political landscape of historical polluters.

While countries like Germany shop around for new sources of fossil fuels in the context of a brutal war in Ukraine, they refuse to commit to additional and scaled up finance to communities who have done the least to cause this climate crisis and are experiencing unavoidable impacts even at 1.2C.

Developing countries stood united in their demand for a loss and damage finance facility and ask for discussions on loss and damage finance to be on the agenda at COP27.

International Climate Director, World Resources Institute, David Waskow, said: “This UN meeting elevated the severe losses and damages that vulnerable countries face from climate change higher than any negotiations have before but failed to clarify how to address the problem. While developed countries acknowledged the need to address such damages, they rebuffed requests from vulnerable nations to work toward establishing a new funding mechanism.

“Perhaps the most decisive outcome from these talks is that developed countries now realise that the chorus calling for solutions to address loss and damage is only getting louder and that making concrete progress on this issue is a central measure of success for the UN climate summit in Egypt.

“Now the pressure is on for leaders to pick up the slack and use upcoming diplomatic gatherings to deliver the political momentum that is needed ahead of COP27. Key opportunities include the G7 Summit and Petersberg Dialogue.

“Heightened attention to growing impacts must also lead to stronger climate action across the board, from dramatically cutting emissions and protecting forests to providing support for vulnerable countries facing the increasingly severe consequences of an overheating world.”