The Bonn Climate Change Conference came to a close after two weeks of intense work to make progress on important technical issues, and prepare decisions for adoption at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh in November.
However, vulnerable countries and civil society expressed disappointment that more progress was not made to provide funding for vulnerable countries to deal with losses and damages due to the emissions of the rich.
They say that Europe and the US have a “responsibility now to pay for these losses and damages”.
The pressure is now on for leaders to make more decisive progress at diplomatic gatherings and elsewhere leading up to the COP27 summit in Egypt.
Building on the many mandates that emerged from the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow last year, discussions, which culminated on Thursday, took place 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 Bonn Climate Change Conference has been the first opportunity for all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to meet since the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact at COP26 last year.
In Glasgow, governments agreed a package of decisions that pave the 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 on the one hand to building adaptation to the inevitable impacts of climate change, which include ever more frequent and intense heatwaves, flood and storms, and loss and damage, along with the necessary financial support.
On the other hand, important work has been launched on urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation.
Delegates at the Bonn Climate Change Conference 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.
Marianne Karlsen, the Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), said: “The Global Stocktake and other discussions at the Bonn Climate 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, Hoesung Lee, Chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 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.
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 mobilize $100 billion annually 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 build a more sustainable and resilient future,” the UN’s top climate change official Espinosa said.
“At COP27, progress needs to be demonstrated clearly and convincingly, along with the alignment of financial flows with the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” she added.
The UN Climate Change Conference COP27 will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 6-18.
As part of its obligations under the Paris Agreement, Australia committed new national climate commitment, a necessary leap forward for a major emitter that has only offered grossly insufficient targets in the past.
On the last day of the Bonn summit, it lodged an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) with the UNFCCC secretariat.
The updated NDC commits Australia to a more ambitious 2030 target.
“We will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which is a 15 percentage point increase on Australia’s previous 2030 target, reaffirms Australia’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 and commits the government to providing an annual statement to parliament on progress towards these targets,” a statement by the Australian government said.
Meanwhile, responding to the UN climate negotiations conclusion, David Waskow, Director International Climate Action, World Resources Institute, told IANS, “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 deal with 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 realize that the chorus calling for solutions to loss and damage is only getting louder and addressing this issue is a central measure of success for the UN climate summit in Egypt.”
Seeing the huge disconnect between the negotiations and the urgency of action needed, Mary Friel, Christian Aid’s Climate Justice Lead, said: “Right now it is people, communities and the most climate vulnerable who are being hit the hardest, who did the least to cause the crisis, yet are bearing the costs for loss and damage. Richer countries need to pay up.”
On Australia’s new climate commitment, Waskow said, “This new plan offers an opportunity for the country to pivot away from fossil fuels and heavily invest in clean power.”
“Such a transition will set the stage for Australia to reap the huge economic benefits from a zero-carbon economy by 2050. And like all major emitters, Australia should more closely align its target with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius ahead of COP27 this November.”
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)