Diplomats from around the world are convening in the German city of Bonn this week to engage in crucial discussions that are pivotal to global initiatives aimed at combatting climate change and adapting to extreme weather events.
These often overlooked negotiations, held annually ahead of the United Nations’ significant COP climate summits, serve as the building blocks for humanity’s response to the pressing issue of global warming.
Delegates from various nations will focus on technical intricacies related to reducing pollution, safeguarding populations from a progressively inhospitable environment, and mobilizing financial resources to support these efforts. These talks will pave the way for substantial political deliberations at the upcoming COP28 conference scheduled for November in the United Arab Emirates.
Preparatory Talks in Bonn Lay the Foundation for COP28 Climate Summit
Alex Scott, a diplomacy expert at the climate think tank E3G in London, emphasized the significance of the Bonn meeting as a platform for officials to assess the outcomes of the previous climate summit and evaluate the efficacy of their climate policies. Notably, the absence or limited presence of politicians distinguishes the Bonn conference from other high-level gatherings.
The Bonn conference marks the first occasion where climate diplomats will convene since COP27, a tense summit held in Egypt last year, during which world leaders agreed to establish a fund to compensate developing nations for the damage caused by extreme weather events. This last-minute agreement represented a groundbreaking step toward affluent nations assuming responsibility for their carbon emissions.
While some preliminary discussions on these matters will take place in Bonn, the political debates are expected to be deferred until later in the year.
However, many countries left the summit feeling frustrated by the inadequate progress made in climate mitigation, particularly regarding actions aimed at reducing planet-warming emissions. Marjo Nummelin, Finland’s lead climate negotiator, acknowledged the agreement reached on the new fund but expressed concerns about the lack of tangible advancements in the mitigation agenda.
The future of the fund itself remains uncertain, as countries must reach a consensus on issues such as funding sources, distribution, allocation criteria, and disbursement procedures. While some preliminary discussions on these matters will take place in Bonn, the political debates are expected to be deferred until later in the year.
Wealthy nations failed to fulfill their promise, made in 2009, to provide $100 billion per year in grants and loans to developing countries by 2020.
Juan Carlos Monterrey, a former chief climate negotiator for Panama currently associated with the conservation-focused educational charity Geoversity, shared his expectation that the Bonn conference will produce an informal note, collecting the perspectives and positions of the different parties and groups involved. However, he emphasized that an informal note does not hold any official standing and merely serves as a compilation of viewpoints.
For nations on the front lines of climate change, grappling with scorching heatwaves and witnessing the loss of homes due to rising sea levels, addressing these challenges on paper does not guarantee the provision of financial resources.
Wealthy nations failed to fulfill their promise, made in 2009, to provide $100 billion per year in grants and loans to developing countries by 2020. Unlike the aforementioned new fund, which focuses on post-disaster recovery, this financial support was intended to assist in carbon reduction and adaptation to extreme weather events.
While some analysts predict that the target may be met in 2023, three years later than originally planned, verification of this achievement will only be possible in the subsequent years. Regardless, scientists argue that the initially promised amount was insufficient. Discussions in Bonn will encompass the establishment of a new climate finance target beyond 2025.
Criticism has been directed at the upcoming COP28 climate summit due to the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber, the head of UAE oil company ADNOC, as its president. In a published open letter in May, 130 lawmakers from the European Union and the United States called for al-Jaber’s removal, expressing concern that the appointment sends a message of undue influence by the oil industry.
Juan Carlos Monterrey, the former Panama negotiator, warned that such an appointment increases the risk of rendering the entire climate negotiation process obsolete, as it may undermine public confidence in the seriousness of the endeavor.
During the Bonn conference, the United Nations will evaluate the progress made towards climate goals. The global stocktake, a two-year review of humanity’s response to climate change, will enter its final phase in Bonn this month and will be published ahead of COP28 in November.
The review will draw upon previous research indicating that countries are emitting excessive greenhouse gases, hindering world leaders from fulfilling their climate commitments, and allocating inadequate financial resources to protect their citizens from extreme weather events.
To meet their targets, scientists assert that global leaders must urgently reduce the consumption of coal, oil, and gas while implementing substantial and rapid emission cuts across all sectors. Governments are expected to present new and more ambitious action plans at the COP30 conference in 2025, scheduled to take place in the city of Belem near the Amazon rainforest, as recently announced by the Brazilian government.