Distractions and double-speak plague climate finance talks in Bonn, says CSE

New Delhi/Bonn, June 14, 2024: The world will have a tough time in the next climate conference (CoP 29) in Baku – because it did not do enough in the mid-year climate talks which ended in Bonn yesterday, say researchers from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) who attended the meet in Germany. 

Back from Bonn, Avantika Goswami, programme manager, climate change, CSE said: “The Bonn talks took place whilst searing temperatures scorched northern India and Sudan and floods raged in southern Germany, omens of heightening climate impacts. However, for countries that had gathered for the two-weeks of negotiations in Bonn, this did not seem to matter as distractions and double-speak ruled the talks.” 

Finance frozen

On the headline issue of the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance, divergences between developed and developing countries deepened instead of converging, signaling a long and arduous path to an agreement at Baku. Developing countries made clear demands for grant-based and concessional financing for climate and highlighted that the financial system creates a ‘disenabling’ environment for finance to flow to developing countries. The G77 and China bloc has remained united in its demands and upped the ante in its statement at the closing plenary, mentioning that they “cannot go beyond COP29 without defining the NCQG”, and that there is a need to “move from conceptual to concrete discussions”. 

But developed countries chose to focus on distractions such as the expansion of the contributor base for the goal. “Several developed countries continued to call for the provision of climate finance to be extended beyond just developed countries to include certain developing countries as well, arguing that this is to have the new climate finance goal reflect “new economic realities”, said Sehr Raheja, programme officer, climate change, CSE, who attended the Bonn talks. 

“Articles 9.1 and 9.3 of the Paris Agreement speak of developed country obligations of providing finance; the climate finance negotiations are not meant to push more responsibility onto developing countries, but rather, to honour obligations of developed countries to provide means of implementing climate action that is long overdue, in line with needs,” Raheja added. 

On the “quantum” of the NCQG, the Like-Minded Developing Countries, Arab group, and African Group, have suggested amounts in the range of US $1.1-$ 1.3 trillion per year. But developed countries did not engage meaningfully on the issue of quantum, nor did they propose one of their own. 

“Even an annual quantum of US $1 trillion as put forth by some developing countries is likely an underestimation of the climate needs of all developing countries; the finance demand must be scaled up in ambition to reflect both the past historical responsibility and today’s growing climate impacts and damages that the developing world is suffering. We must not hold back on asking for means of implementation for fear of disturbing political alliances – this is a survival issue”, said Goswami. 

What’s next after Global Stocktake (GST)

“As a follow-up to the GST which concluded at CoP 28, an Annual GST Dialogue was held to track progress on implementing the outcomes of the GST. Despite a call for “transitioning away from fossil fuels” in the GST text, developed nations seemed to sidestep fossil fuels completely, focusing only on demanding stronger targets from all,” said Tamanna Sengupta, programme officer, climate change at CSE. 

Understandably, any mention of stronger mitigation from the Global North was met with a reminder of inadequate financing from the Global South, leading to a stalemate. “With CoP 29 set to take place in yet another oil-heavy country, the fossil fuel transition is at risk of being sidelined at worst and used as a political tool at best,” Sengupta added.   

Negotiations also took place to determine what the UAE Dialogue on GST should look like. Parties could not agree on whether the Dialogue should focus on providing climate finance and other means of implementation, or on all GST outcomes including stronger mitigation. Co-chairs provided two options leading up to CoP 29: one calls for climate finance encompassing Global South views and the second looks at all outcomes representing Global North perspectives. 

Loss and damage

Following closely on the heels of the first Loss and Damage Fund (LDF) Board meeting, the 3rd Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage at Bonn brought together country perspectives on the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, the Warsaw International Mechanism and the LDF. Developing nations, particularly the Least Developed Countries, highlighted yet again that means of implementation have not kept pace with their L&D needs. It is also time to have a proper integrated framework in which the three different mechanisms of L&D interact with each other, as many countries highlighted. Developed nations did not have much to say in the Glasgow Dialogue, while the Global South reminded delegates that a sub-goal on L&D finance under the NCQG is a necessity for constructively addressing their needs. 

Mitigation Work Programme hamstrung by mistrust

Talks under the Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) negotiation have been in limbo since last year, and Bonn did not precipitate a breakthrough. Developing countries, particularly large emerging economies, have dug in their heels refusing to take on additional pressures beyond what they have committed in their NDCs – which are due for an update next year. Meanwhile developed countries have insisted on furthering substantial talks, but this may not be coming from the most constructive place. As a result, an atmosphere of mistrust has plagued the MWP. 

“Developing countries urgently need due support and access to means of implementation - financing, technology transfer, and capacity building - to strengthen their capabilities to face climate change while not compromising development”, said Brazil in a powerful statement on behalf of Group SUR. 

“There is a fundamental disconnect between developed country negotiators and the rest within the MWP – mitigation has been a Global North supported agenda for 30 years, and the Paris Agreement diluted differentiation further by placing an equal burden of climate action on all. Tasked with implementing NDCs already, developing countries are unwilling to engage in discussions that place more demands on them, without commitments of financing to enable the same. This cooperation has failed to precipitate in the MWP so far. This fact will continue to derail this programme, until a better mechanism is devised,” said Goswami. 

Article 6 sees some clarity

Under the market mechanisms (Article 6.2 and Article 6.4), Parties were able to bring more clarity to their positions on various elements in Bonn, but as there was no consensus, these elements have been deferred to a joint workshop that is supposed to take place before CoP 29. 

“Movement on some issues has led to a lighter agenda for Baku. However, there are conflicting views on some substantial matters, and attempts to have an agreement that satisfies all Parties may dilute resulting guidelines on these matters,” said Trishant Dev, programme officer, climate change, CSE. 

“The contentious elements included the authorisation process, the sequencing of reporting and authorisation, issues regarding registries, and the manner of addressing inconsistencies in reporting. Consideration of some matters, most importantly whether emission avoidance activities can be allowed under both Article 6.2 and 6.4, has been deferred to SBSTA 68, which will take place in 2028. Until then, such activities will not be eligible under market mechanisms”, Dev added. 

For interviews and more details, please contact Sukanya Nair of The CSE Media Resource Centre: sukanya.nair@cseindia.org, 8816818864