Deep Dive: Bonn Climate Change Conference - June 2023

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Climate negotiations commenced once again this month in the German city of Bonn, as diplomats from around the world searched for common ground before the upcoming major UN summit COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Developing countries had achieved a significant milestone six months earlier at COP27 in Egypt when they secured a “loss-and-damage fund” for individuals affected by climate disasters. During the Bonn conference, delegates were assigned the task of establishing the foundation for a “global stocktake” where nations would evaluate their progress towards climate objectives. Additionally, their schedules were filled with various workshops and “dialogues” that form the basis of the UN climate system.
However, tensions escalated as negotiators struggled to reach a consensus even on the initial agenda for the talks until the day prior to the conclusion of the two-week session. The situation led experienced diplomat Nabeel Munir, who was overseeing the talks, to liken those in attendance to “a class of primary school.” He emphasized that 33 million people in his home country of Pakistan were affected by floods last year and urged delegates to “awaken.”
Nevertheless, the conflicts at Bonn's World Conference Centre were rooted in historical disputes, with many pertaining to longstanding grievances regarding the provision of funding that developing countries argue they require in order to reduce their emissions.
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COP Presidency Controversy

The Bonn negotiations commenced amid persistent concerns regarding the COP28 presidency. Sultan Al Jaber, the United Arab Emirates COP president-designate, has faced significant criticism due to his position as chief executive of the country's national oil company, ADNOC. According to multiple sources, more than 130 European and US lawmakers recently published an open letter calling for Al Jaber's removal from the role. They argued that having the head of one of the world's largest oil and gas companies as COP president posed a risk of undermining the negotiations. The COP28 chief briefly participated in the 58th sessions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC's) Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), referred to as SB58, in Bonn. During a brief address, he did acknowledge that a reduction in fossil fuel usage is now “unavoidable,” explicitly acknowledging this idea for the first time. However, he refrained from specifying a timeline. Additionally, he informed youth groups that there was potential for COP28 to discuss a target of tripling renewable energy by 2030. This follows the failure of the final COP27 text to include a call for a phase-down of fossil fuels, despite proposals from India, the EU, the US, and other countries. Many considered the language in the text to be too limited and advocated for a commitment to a complete and equitable phaseout of fossil fuels. While Al Jaber's change in rhetoric is noteworthy, it falls short of the demands from many for a complete phaseout of fossil fuels. Youth groups, as well as NGOs and others, frequently chanted protests regarding this matter throughout Bonn. Numerous voices pointed to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emphasizing the urgent need for substantial reductions in fossil fuel use to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. Discussions on energy transition or a just transition were met with calls for action. However, the topic continues to be divisive among parties. During the closing plenary session, St Kitts and Nevis, representing AOSIS (the Alliance of Small Island States), expressed their concerns regarding the compromises made in including the IPCC's sixth assessment report (AR6) in the final agenda from Bonn. They considered it a “no-brainer.” This sentiment was echoed by the EU, Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), which includes Switzerland, South Korea, and Mexico, as well as Canada, Norway, the US, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Senegal. All of them shared the concern that the outcome from Bonn did not adequately reflect the importance of the IPCC AR6, despite it being described as “the most comprehensive and robust assessment of climate change” by the US. Many questions remain regarding the nature and success of COP28, given both the leadership and broader geopolitical tensions, particularly Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which led to delegates walking out during Russia's opening remarks in Bonn. On June 5, as the Bonn climate change conference commenced, disagreement over a fossil fuel phaseout was palpable. This disagreement quickly stalled the talks, as an agenda dispute emerged, dominating the event.
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One of the central areas of disagreement at Bonn was the incorporation of the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Action and Implementation Work Programme (CAIWP) into the agenda. The CAIWP, which aims to "urgently enhance mitigation efforts and implementation in this critical decade," was established at COP26 in November 2021, acknowledging that collective efforts by countries fall significantly short of what is required to achieve global climate goals.
At COP27 in November 2022, parties agreed that the CAIWP should commence immediately. Parties, observers, and other non-party stakeholders were also invited to provide their perspectives on opportunities, best practices, actionable solutions, challenges, and barriers related to mitigation before March 1, 2023.
Following this, the European Union, represented by Sweden, requested the formal inclusion of the CAIWP on the Bonn agenda. The work programme for 2023 was intended to focus on a just energy transition, as confirmed by Amr Osama Abdel-Aziz (Egypt) and Lola Vallejo (France), who led the first "global dialogue and investment-focused event" held in Bonn from June 3-5, 2023, prior to the conference. Discussions during this dialogue centred around renewables, energy efficiency, and electricity grids, but did not address the topic of fossil fuel phaseout and its connection to a just transition.
Against this backdrop, negotiators entered the Bonn climate change conference. The opening plenary session in Bonn was delayed as consultations with parties were conducted regarding two agenda items: the CAIWP proposed by the EU, and the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) proposed by the G77 and China.
When SBSTA chair Harry Vreuls (Netherlands) and SBI chair Nabeel Munir (Pakistan) jointly convened the opening plenaries of both bodies, they announced that, despite extensive consultations, there was no consensus on the agenda. Work was therefore initiated based on the supplementary provisional agenda, while further consultations on these elements were undertaken.
Two days later, on June 7, Bolivia, representing the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), submitted a request to add an additional agenda item on "urgently scaling up financial support from developed country Parties in line with Article 4.5 to enable implementation for developing countries in this critical decade."
While mitigation is widely recognized as crucial, the economic burden of climate change mitigation actions could pose significant challenges for many developing countries already facing financial constraints. Due to limited resources, financing mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, as well as essential infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, remains unattainable for many nations.
Therefore, Bolivia, on behalf of the LMDCs and later supported publicly by groups like the Arab Group and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), argued that they could not accept the inclusion of the CAIWP on the agenda without the addition of a new financial support item.
This deadlock created concerns that the agenda might not be adopted at all, jeopardizing the work undertaken over the two weeks. Following further discussions, amounting to 11 hours of agenda consultations according to SBI chair Munir, a second plenary was convened on June 12.
During the meeting, amendments to the relevant items on the work programme related to just-transition pathways within the agenda were accepted. However, the debate surrounding the inclusion of the CAIWP remained unresolved, leading the chairs to once again conclude the plenary without adopting the agenda.
Bolivia continued to emphasize the need for increased financial support for developing countries, arguing that a dedicated space was necessary to discuss the "means of implementation." Consequently, they maintained that the CAIWP should not be adopted without the addition of a finance track.
However, the EU, together with the Environment Integrity Group (EIG), the US, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Japan, pushed back. They contended that finance was already integrated into various agenda items and would be addressed within the CAIWP.
During the plenary, Diego Pacheco Balanza, the LMDC chair, expressed concerns about these comments, suggesting that developed countries were attempting to shift their responsibility to provide finance.
He referred to the failure of developed countries to meet the goal of providing $100 billion per year by 2020, which was set out at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009.
This failure has evidently eroded trust between countries from the global south and the global north. Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, the special representative of the COP27 president, described it as "regrettable" that the "symbolic trust-generating objective" had not been achieved over the years.
Ultimately, the plenary was adjourned without the adoption of the agenda, causing concerns among parties and observers. Finally, the SBI and SBSTA adopted their agendas on the conference's penultimate evening, bringing relief to many. SBSTA chair Harry Vreuls stated: "The SBI chair and I are pleased to report today that the continued consultations have enabled parties to reach an agreement on the agendas. We now feel that the time is right to adopt these agendas and would like to sincerely thank parties who met, and consulted with us and with each other, in order to agree on the continuous issues in the spirit of compromise and flexibility."
Ultimately, the CAIWP and the proposed item on financial support were removed from the agenda, with an informal note to be issued by the SB chairs documenting the work conducted on the CAIWP in Bonn. Vreuls also emphasized that this does not set a precedent for future work. Later this year, there will be another dialogue on the CAIWP, preceding COP28. While the specific topic of the dialogue has yet to be confirmed, the question of fossil fuel phaseout and its economic implications within a just transition is likely to be of significant concern.
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Climate finance

Most of the negotiations at the conference did not directly focus on finance. However, as is customary in UN climate talks, funding played a significant role throughout the event.
Efforts are underway to establish a new post-2025 climate finance goal to provide developing countries with the necessary funds to reduce their emissions and enhance their resilience to climate risks.
This "new collective quantified goal" (NCQG), mandated by the Paris Agreement, must be agreed upon by COP29 in 2024. Nevertheless, discussions on this topic remained highly technical in Bonn.
In the meantime, the unmet $100 billion target remained a prominent issue. Developed countries have not yet fulfilled this financing goal for developing countries, and their failure to do so has contributed to a significant lack of trust among parties.
According to Oxfam's analysis, once loans and non-climate-specific finance are excluded from the total provided by developed nations, they only reached less than one-quarter of their goal in 2020. Developing countries generally prefer grant-based finance that does not add to their debt burden.
Many delegates in Bonn felt that insufficient climate finance was hindering progress. In fact, the agenda dispute over the LMDCs' request for more finance discussions nearly derailed the entire conference.
This sentiment was echoed by Tina Stege, the climate envoy from the Marshall Islands, who stated during a press conference: "The gaps are clear...We need to address all of the gaps, and finance is the key to unlocking and achieving the necessary change."
She emphasized the need for a comprehensive transformation of the financial architecture, acknowledging that addressing climate change globally will require trillions, not billions, of dollars.
The idea of comprehensive reforms to the world's financial systems is gaining momentum, with the Bridgetown Agenda proposed by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, which includes a substantial set of proposals. These discussions have also fueled conversations on World Bank reform and a summit organized by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, focusing on a "new global financing pact" between the global north and the global south.
There is hope that actions beyond the UN climate process could help bridge the gaps mentioned by Stege in terms of developing countries' needs and capacities.
However, not everyone is satisfied with this framing. Meena Raman, a senior legal adviser with Third World Network, expressed her concerns during a press conference in the final days of the event: "The new mantra that is here is Article 2.1c of the Paris Agreement...And why do [developed countries] say that this is the most important aspect for them? Because they want to shift away from the obligations that are mentioned in Article 9 of the Paris Agreement."
Article 2.1c refers to countries aligning finance flows with low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. In contrast, Article 9 focuses on developed countries' obligation to provide financial support to developing countries. Article 2.1c itself is not problematic as it calls for aligning all finance with the goals of the Paris Agreement. However, climate justice groups and many developing countries view the emphasis on Article 2.1c as an attempt by developed countries to evade their climate finance commitments.
They argue that the US, the EU, and their allies aim to make developing countries reliant on private-sector investment and loans while expanding the list of climate finance contributors to include relatively wealthy developing nations such as China and the Gulf states.
Furthermore, campaigners highlighted the hypocrisy of the US and other countries advocating this framing while still providing subsidies to fossil fuels domestically.
Alex Rafalowicz, director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, stated during a press briefing: "It is fundamentally disconnected for a country that claims to be a climate leader."
During the second week in Bonn, US negotiator Trigg Talley called for a greater focus on private finance and an expansion of the donor base. He stated, "If finance is urgent, then it would make sense to consider all such sources."
However, there are also reasons why developing countries highly reliant on fossil fuels, like Saudi Arabia, may prefer to keep climate finance discussions focused on the obligations of developed countries. Tom Evans, a policy adviser at E3G, explained: "They can use that as a shield. They are more concerned that the more we talk about [2.1c] financial flows, we're literally talking about ending fossil-fuel investment."
Indeed, Saudi Arabia and other nations with significant fossil fuel industries, such as China, vocally supported the LMDCs' call for urgent financial support from developed countries in line with Article 4.5 of the Paris Agreement.
(This specific paragraph of the Paris Agreement states that support shall be provided to developing country parties to assist them in reducing emissions. The US argued that Article 4.5 does not explicitly require developed countries to provide this support.)
These discussions also influenced negotiations on the global stocktake, with the draft document for the stocktake's structure being revised several times, particularly the section on climate finance. This reflected disputes between developed countries and certain developing countries regarding the prominence of Article 2.1c. The final version included four different options for finance, one of which did not mention "finance flows" at all.
Regarding the post-2025 climate finance target, the Bonn talks featured the sixth technical expert dialogue on the NCQG.
The dialogue focused on the "quantum" (amount) and the mobilization and provision of financial sources. The target will not be determined until 2024, but a key issue is that, unlike the $100 billion target, it is supposed to be based on a detailed assessment of how much money developing countries require to meet their climate targets.
David Chama Kaluba, a climate finance negotiator for the African Group from Zambia, reported substantial progress following the first meeting on this subject, stating, "I think we are now answering the real questions"
"We don't want to come up with a number abruptly that is not informed by any technical aspects."
Others expressed concerns that developed countries were reluctant to ensure that the NCQG reflects the true needs of developing countries. Madeleine Diouf Sarr, the Senegalese LDC chair, stated in a post-Bonn statement that "some seem to want to disconnect developing country needs—which are in the trillions—from the quantified goal."
Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy international program coordinator at Friends of the Earth International summarized these concerns during a press event, saying: "We're struggling even to get millions...when we're actually looking at needing trillions. It feels like a bit of a parallel universe sometimes, in terms of what our demands are and what is actually on the table."
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Global Stocktake (GST)

At COP28, the first global stocktake (GST) will take place, providing an assessment of the current state of the world's progress in addressing climate change and determining the necessary actions to achieve the goals. This is a fundamental component of the Paris Agreement and aims to inform the revision of national climate pledges to enhance ambition in limiting global warming.
It is widely recognized that countries are falling short of their targets, and even these targets alone are insufficient to limit warming to 1.5°C. As Tom Evans from E3G highlighted during a briefing in Bonn:
"We are aware that we are significantly off track. Our efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C are inadequate, and we are unprepared for climate disasters. However, COP28 presents an opportunity for an ambitious response to these challenges, which could correct our course and go even beyond."
The GST dialogues have taken place at various stages, including in Bonn in June 2022, COP27 in Egypt in November 2022, and the most recent one in Bonn this June, just before COP28.
During the second week in Bonn, a draft framework for the GST was released, comprising five key areas:
1. Preamble
2. Context and cross-cutting considerations
3. Collective progress towards the purpose and long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, taking into account equity, the best available science, and informing action and support in a nationally determined manner
4. Enhancing international cooperation
5. Guidance and the way forward
Among these areas, the most contentious was the third section (labeled "C"), which focused on the collective purpose and long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. It covered topics such as mitigation, adaptation, finance flows, means of implementation and support, efforts related to loss and damage, and response measures.
Discussions on finance flows, means of implementation, and the historical responsibility of developed countries were central to many disagreements, similar to debates on adaptation, mitigation, and loss and damage.
During negotiations, Saudi Arabia, China, and other countries suggested changes to prioritize implementation over finance flows or remove references to finance flows altogether. The US opposed this suggestion, proposing that implementation and support be a subsection under finance flows. However, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia disagreed, arguing that financial flows encompass more than just means of implementation.
The co-chairs of this agenda item, Alison Campbell (UK) and Joseph Teo (Singapore), attempted to find a compromise. Eventually, it was agreed to include several options for the subsection on finance flows and means of implementation in the final draft, rather than settling on a specific wording.
Another significant point of contention was the historical responsibility of developed countries, which developing countries, led by the G77 and China, emphasized in the technical dialogues. They called for an equitable distribution of the "carbon space." The US pushed back against this, deeming the comments "unacceptable."
Despite these disagreements, the discussions on the GST were not derailed, and COP28 remains on track to be the "GST COP."
In his closing speech, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell emphasized the need for stronger pledges and their effective implementation. He stated: "The pledges made by parties and their implementation are far from sufficient... The response to the stocktake will determine our success – the success of COP28 and, more importantly, the success in stabilizing our climate."
A summary report on the third technical dialogue on the GST will be published by August 15, 2023. Subsequently, a factual synthesis report will be produced by September 8, 2023, consolidating all the assessments from the third dialogue.
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Loss and Damage

COP27 witnessed the long-awaited establishment of a compensation fund to assist those affected by climate-related disasters. This achievement was widely celebrated by developing countries. However, the negotiations regarding loss and damage were far from concluded. Nabeel Munir, the Pakistani negotiator who led the G77 and China group's efforts to establish the fund, emphasized this point at Bonn in his new role as chair of the SBI: "It is important to acknowledge that a significant change has occurred, a change that is positive... but our work has just begun."
Studies estimate that climate-related disasters, such as hurricanes and sea-level rise, could cost developing countries a minimum of $400 billion annually by 2030. This issue is situated within the broader context of developed countries failure to provide adequate climate finance, leading to a lack of trust among the parties involved.
The COP27 decision on loss and damage involved the establishment of a transitional committee responsible for developing the fund and other funding arrangements to support relevant actions. The committee held its initial meeting in Luxor, Egypt, in March and the second meeting in Bonn prior to the talks. Two more meetings, including a ministerial meeting, will take place before COP28.
At the close of the second transitional committee meeting, it became evident that the members were divided along familiar lines. Developed countries expressed a preference for focusing on funding arrangements outside the fund itself. This approach, known as the "mosaic of solutions," was previously advocated by the US and the EU at COP27 as an alternative to the fund. It includes financing from multilateral development banks, insurance schemes, and humanitarian organizations.
In contrast, developing countries insisted on establishing the loss and damage fund as an operating entity of the UNFCCC, financed by contributions from developed countries and providing grants rather than loans.
Discussions are also ongoing regarding additional sources of finance, such as taxes on aviation, shipping, or fossil fuels, to supplement the fund. The following chart illustrates different sources of funding for loss and damage as perceived by civil society groups.
At a press conference during the first week of Bonn, Mohamed Nasr, the lead negotiator for COP27 president Egypt and a member of the transitional committee, emphasized that loss and damage finance should not be focused on development or emission reduction but on restoring the development achievements lost due to climate-induced disasters. He asserted that existing systems, mainly based on loans, would be insufficient for providing loss and damage finance. Instead, he stressed the need for grant-based financing or highly concessional options.
He further emphasized that the funding should be accessible to all developing countries but with different triggers determining the ease of access for each country. Eligibility criteria for accessing funds were a significant point of contention at COP27.
Meanwhile, the Glasgow Dialogue, initially established at COP26 when the loss and damage fund was not secured, continued into its second session at Bonn. While the dialogue was initially regarded as a mere "talking shop" with limited impact, it is now mandated to inform the work of the transitional committee and serves as a platform for parties to exchange views on the operational aspects of the fund.
The only aspect of loss and damage subject to formal negotiations in Bonn was the location of the Santiago Network for loss and damage. The network was established at COP25 as a compromise when developed countries rejected loss and damage funding. Although developing countries have embraced the network as a means to access support, it has faced delays and only recently began functioning after years of preparation.
Harjeet Singh, the head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network (CAN), highlighted the network's crucial role in initiating technical assessments of the impacts faced by countries. He emphasized the importance of establishing the institution correctly to build robust technical capacity.
During the talks, negotiators had to decide on a host organization for the Santiago Network secretariat. The evaluation report presented two options: the Office for Project Services in the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR/UNOPS) based in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) headquartered in Barbados.
Consensus could not be reached among developing countries regarding the host institution, leading to a deadlock. Both proposals were based in the Global South, but AOSIS, in particular, preferred a Caribbean-based institution to take on the network. AILAC, which has members in the region, also supported this option.
As the talks concluded, Paraguayan negotiator Agustin Carrizosa Bradshaw, representing the Climate Youth Negotiator Programme, expressed the challenge of finding a location that adequately represents all countries from the Global South and provides necessary access for implementing loss and damage measures.
According to an AOSIS spokesperson, their position is based on the merits of the institution rather than the political aspects of its location. Concerns were raised about UNDRR's limited experience in comprehensive risk management, which may not encompass the full scope of loss and damage issues.
As parties failed to reach an agreement on the network's host, the decision was postponed to COP28, adding to the workload for the upcoming conference. The final text stated that the SBs "recommended a draft decision selecting xx to host the Santiago network secretariat, which was found to have best met the criteria".
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There were four primary areas of negotiation concerning adaptation in Bonn, namely, the global target on adaptation (GTA), the Adaptation Committee, the Nairobi work program, and national adaptation plans (NAPs). Despite being established as one of the fundamental pillars of the 2015 Paris Agreement, several significant challenges have hindered adaptation efforts, particularly in terms of financing, where it falls behind mitigation. As Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, special representative of the COP27 president, explained during a press briefing in Bonn, adaptation does not attract private sector funding to the same extent. He stated, "It's just the reality. Look at where private sector investment is going. You'll find the majority is invested in renewables because the business model is lucrative and easy to understand. I have yet to see a business model that would make smart investors say, 'Wow, I'm going to invest in adaptation.' We need creative sources of funding, not solely relying on the private sector with trillions of dollars." Apart from financing, measuring adaptation is also more challenging compared to mitigation, as mentioned by Bethan Laughlin, senior policy specialist at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). She highlighted the need for a combination of qualitative and quantitative metrics, which must also consider the diverse experiences of communities worldwide, especially for the global target on adaptation (GTA). As Laughlin further explained in Bonn, measuring emissions and their reduction is easier "than measuring adaptation in terms of community resilience, ecosystem sustainability, or the thriving or declining of species. These metrics are more complex because they require a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches." Moreover, adaptation is typically driven at the local level, often occurring within small communities. This presents an additional challenge in measuring and communicating adaptation efforts, which, in turn, limits the ability to learn from and share experiences. During a panel discussion at Bonn, Razan Al Mubarak, president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, emphasized the importance of listening to the survival stories and existing solutions from communities worldwide, referring to their ongoing adaptation efforts. She stressed that the global community must ensure that adaptation is included in the climate change discourse. Established at COP26, the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work program on the global target on adaptation is a two-year initiative aimed at developing a clear framework for the GTA before it is adopted at COP28. Over the past year, the two-year work program (2022-23) has conducted six workshops, with the latest held in Bonn on June 4-5, focusing specifically on metrics, indicators, and methodologies to establish a comprehensive adaptation framework. During the informal consultations throughout the two-week talks, a division emerged as Suriname on behalf of the G77, China representing the LMDC, and India called for the inclusion of targets within the framework through a series of submissions in the first week. The G77 and China stressed the importance of engaging in substantive discussions on targets. India aligned itself with Suriname, arguing that adaptation must be dynamic and consider countries' adaptive capacity and climate risks. In a submission, India stated, "Setting global goals for vulnerability reduction and minimizing mortality from extreme events and climate-related disasters is essential. However, any goals related to these outcomes must be absolute in nature—for example, reducing mortality to zero. We cannot settle for halfway targets as it would not be ethical. As governments, it is our responsibility to ensure that no individual is left behind. While we may not always achieve this in specific cases due to various reasons, we cannot set goals that fall short of this standard." As the talks progressed into the second week, frustration was expressed by countries regarding the GTA process during the informal stocktaking meeting held by the SBI chair. Costa Rica, on behalf of AILAC, expressed concern about the lack of progress and the apparent unwillingness to reach an agreement on the framework at COP28. As a result of the inputs received during the informal discussions, three options for draft conclusions were presented to parties by co-facilitator Janine Felson of Belize on Wednesday morning of the second week in Bonn. These options varied in their approach. The first option, favoured by many in the Global South, included an annexe providing elements for the framework's development. The other two options, which were more popular among the Global North, emphasized procedural conclusions and provided greater flexibility. Parties were divided in their preferences, leading to discussions that continued into the final day in Bonn. Madeleine Diouf Sarr, chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, expressed concern in a statement following the conclusion of the conference, stating, "We came here expecting progress towards adopting the framework on the GTA at COP28, but negotiations made limited progress until the very last minute. This is concerning because the GTA is a priority for our group in enhancing adaptation action and support for our countries." Ultimately, the third option, which focused on the structure of the GTA, was adopted after debates over the wording and inclusion of hyperlinks, spending half an hour on this matter. Following the GGA sessions, Angelique Pouponneau, policy advisor to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) chair, emphasized the need for a GTA framework that recognizes the unique circumstances of small island developing states (SIDS) while advocating for enhanced collective action on a global scale. Pouponneau expressed satisfaction with the outcome, believing that progress has been captured, which will inform subsequent workshops and the development of the GTA framework. Apart from the GTA, other adaptation-related matters progressed smoothly. Discussions were held within the Nairobi work program, focusing on addressing gaps in adaptation efforts faced by countries. The program is now closed until next year's talks in Bonn. National adaptation plans (NAPs) were introduced as a new agenda item during SB58 and were adopted without the challenges encountered on the global target on adaptation. Informal consultations during the talks centred around the implementation challenges of NAPs for developing countries, considering technical considerations and capacity constraints. Forty countries have already completed their NAPs, with approximately 100 countries currently working on them. Discussions within the review of the Adaptation Committee (AC) faced delays as parties debated the wording of the draft conclusions, with certain elements to be concluded at COP28. Emilie Beauchamp, lead for monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) for adaptation at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), expressed disappointment over the lack of endorsement, despite the AC's strong technical work with limited resources. This lack of support indicates a reluctance to advance adaptation work across the Paris Agreement.
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Just Transition

One of the notable outcomes from COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh was the initiation of a "work program on equitable transition pathways". Calls for a gradual phasing out of fossil fuels have been gaining momentum, with activists and a few Pacific islands endorsing a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty in Bonn. This followed the support expressed by over 80 nations for a "gradual reduction" of fossil fuels at COP27. Against this backdrop, advocates for climate justice emphasize that the need for an equitable transition is more crucial than ever. During the Bonn negotiations, delegates were tasked with developing the program in more detail, including its scope and expected outcomes. Throughout the discussions in Bonn, the just transition work became entangled in similar debates as seen in other negotiation streams. This is partly due to the financial implications of supporting communities and societies in their transition away from fossil fuels. Therefore, the just transition negotiating stream provides developing countries with an avenue to seek climate finance. From the beginning, the G77 and China expressed concerns that their perspectives were being overlooked in the talks, which they described as being overly focused on mitigation, according to Third World Network. Many developing countries envisioned a program that takes a comprehensive international perspective and includes financial support and technology transfer. In contrast, some developed countries strongly supported adhering to the language from the "preamble" of the Paris Agreement. This text refers to the "imperatives of an equitable transition of the workforce" in line with "nationally determined" development priorities. This represents a more limited interpretation of the work program's role. Climate justice groups interpreted this as developed countries only supporting equitable transitions within their own territories, as some are already doing. In this vision, the work program would facilitate knowledge exchange among parties. Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want, dismissed this approach during a press conference, stating: "They do not want this work program to result in concrete action, specific targets, or clear responsibilities. They simply want to discuss best practices – well, we can send them an email." Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, the special representative of the COP27 president, emphasized an international and collaborative approach to the work program they introduced last year, stating: "We hope that the equitable transition approach will be constructive because if we leave no country behind, I believe we have a better chance of gaining people's support and ensuring their commitment to implementation." Ultimately, the negotiations produced an extensive "informal note" capturing the wide range of opinions. However, the document remains bracketed, indicating a lack of agreement, and will continue to be debated in future UN climate talks. Separately, despite disagreements over the content of the work program, parties agreed to hold a workshop to further discuss these details. Even at this stage, there was last-minute tension as the EU reportedly objected to funding the event. The final text of the work program confirms that this workshop will take place before the next session of the subsidiary bodies at COP28 in Dubai, toward the end of the year. "The key question is whether the work will continue in Dubai and whether we will be able to develop a work program that is suitable for its purpose," said Caroline Brouillette, executive director at Climate Action Network Canada.

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Article 6

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement addresses international carbon markets and other "collaborative approaches" that nations can utilize to help achieve their climate targets. Carbon markets have recently faced significant criticism. Investigative reports by news outlets and NGOs have suggested that many offsets purchased by corporations have little impact on emissions. Given the scrutiny faced by the so-called "voluntary" carbon market, numerous countries and civil society groups aim to ensure that the UN rules avoid similar pitfalls. The negotiations on this topic have entered a highly technical phase. The outcomes in Bonn mainly revolved around procedural matters, calling for further work and submissions from parties. "Informal" notes captured divergent views from different countries, reflecting the contentious nature of the topic in UN talks. Transparency regarding the trade of offsets and the ability of parties to modify their decisions on issuing credits after selling them were among the issues discussed in Bonn. These matters had already been contested at COP27 the previous year. The Article 6.4 Supervisory Body was established to establish rules for a new international carbon market, which is expected to commence operations in 2024, replacing the old Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) market. The body held its fifth meeting in the week preceding the main negotiations in Bonn. The body is responsible for providing recommendations on contentious subjects. This includes methodologies for calculating the number of credits a project can issue and determining the "baseline" of emissions without the purchased credits. The inclusion of carbon removals in the system, specifically both land-based and engineered removals, also sparked discussions. The issue of "permanence" was raised, considering the potential loss of carbon storage if trees planted to absorb CO2 burn in a fire, for example. During the meeting, participants agreed to abandon the concept of "tonne-year accounting," a methodology criticized for its failure to ensure permanent carbon storage. More meetings are scheduled throughout the year. The supervisory body is expected to make recommendations on these technical matters, which would then require approval from all parties at COP28. An important topic discussed during informal talks was "emissions avoidance." This concept involves payments for refraining from emitting activities, such as not opening a new coal mine, without actually reducing emissions. Currently, emissions avoidance is not an option under Article 6. However, the Philippines has consistently advocated for its inclusion in the system. Jonathan Crook, a policy expert on global carbon markets at Carbon Market Watch, expressed concerns about this approach, stating: "It would be highly problematic if you could receive credits for fossil fuel reserves that haven't been exploited yet. The potential tonnage of emissions that could generate... it's massive." Opposition to emissions avoidance was reflected in an informal note from the Article 6.4 talks, highlighting that such credits would rely on hypothetical scenarios and not contribute to mitigation efforts. Discussions also continued on Article 6.2, which allows countries to directly trade climate action, referred to as Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs), with each other. Some countries, notably Switzerland and Japan, have already started exploring this system to help meet their climate targets. However, unresolved technical issues remain. Parties in Bonn agreed to create a manual to facilitate the participation of developing countries in Article 6.2 trading. Once Article 6.2 credits are authorized, the country selling the credits is required to make "corresponding adjustments" to ensure emissions reductions are not double-counted. Another topic revisited in Bonn was the revocation of Article 6.2 credits. Some parties desired the flexibility to revoke their authorization in the future. This could pose complications, particularly if a highly forested country sells forest-based credits to other nations but realizes it cannot meet its own climate targets. The potential "consequences" if reported emissions data under Article 6.2 is inaccurate were also debated. While punitive measures are not typically included in the UN system, some countries opposed the idea of consequences, while others favoured a centralized reporting platform to highlight inconsistencies. While several developed countries argued for interlinking the Article 6.4 and 6.2 registries to centralize the process, the US objected to such interlinkages. Lastly, Article 6.8 remains the least defined among the "collaborative measures" outlined in Article 6. Unlike carbon markets, Article 6.8 focuses on "non-market approaches." This approach is favoured by some developing countries and civil society groups that oppose carbon markets due to perceived negative impacts on communities in the Global South. Amid the broader failure of developed countries to fulfil their climate finance obligations to developing nations, some, like the US, have promoted carbon markets as a solution to the funding gap. Discussions in Bonn revolved around a web-based platform for Article 6.8, established at COP27, which some groups view as a potential mechanism to connect those in need with sources of finance.

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Road to COP28

The UAE, which is set to host COP28 in December, has been under close scrutiny due to its position as a major fossil-fuel producer and, specifically, the role of the COP president as the chief executive of an oil company.

The COP28 team has responded to this criticism by emphasizing the importance of involving fossil-fuel companies in the energy transition. However, they have yet to provide clear indications of their goals for a successful event.

Alden Meyer, a senior associate at E3G and a veteran of UN climate talks, stated during a closing briefing that, in his opinion, the Bonn talks represented a "missed opportunity" for COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber: "I believe it is fair to say that he is still in a listening mode, rather than presenting a concrete vision and a set of objectives and strategies to achieve them that he wants to pursue during the COP."

This sentiment was echoed in the limited media coverage of the Bonn negotiations, including an editorial in the Financial Times titled: "The UAE is running out of time to make COP28 a success." Meyer noted that Al Jaber will have more opportunities to elaborate on his plans, such as at the UN General Assembly in New York in September.

The Bonn talks reiterated that climate finance has the potential to significantly impact the negotiations. Less than a week after the session ended, many of the same delegates will convene in Paris, France, for a summit aimed at establishing a "new global financing agreement" between the Global North and Global South.

Experts in Bonn said that while concerns exist regarding the summit, it has the potential to make headway on debt relief and a carbon tax on shipping, with the proceeds directed to countries in need of climate finance.
  • winnie nguru

    48 w

    This is a great article

    • Munene Mugambi

      49 w

      I think we should have good deliberations as we all want what's best for the planet

      • Annett Michuki..

        50 w


        • Kevin

          50 w

          An impeccable story

          • Marine Stephan

            50 w

            Very interesting, thanks for this great article!

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