Bonn talks fail to rise up to escalating climate crisis - Hindustan Times
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Bonn talks fail to rise up to escalating climate crisis

ByJayashree Nandi
Jun 13, 2024 11:25 PM IST

HT reported on June 12 that the rich countries or the Annex 1 nations were reluctant to acknowledge that their emissions are rising instead of declining rapidly

The urgency of climate change is being felt like never before especially in developing countries India many parts of which are currently in the middle of a singeing heatwave.

Delegates walk at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 8, 2023. (REUTERS) PREMIUM
Delegates walk at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 8, 2023. (REUTERS)

The past 12 months have logged record temperatures globally. The global average temperature for the past year (June 2023 – May 2024) is also the highest on record, at 1.63 degree C above the 1850–1900 pre-industrial average, according to the Copernicus Climate Change ERA5 dataset.

In India, as in other parts of the world such as Pakistan and Mexico, heat waves have assumed a deadly magnitude. Hundreds are feared dead since this season’s heat spells began in India in April and large populations of the poor and marginal – with no access to cooling — are barely managing to survive this slow disaster.

The Bonn climate talks

One would expect a global response to this crisis in climate negotiations. The Bonn Climate Change Conference (BCCC), held at the halfway point to the annual climate summit, is the 29th Conference of Parties (COP29) which is being hosted by Azerbaijan this year.

The Bonn talks were expected to define the contours of discussion at COP29. Instead, polarised views and sharp disagreements on key issues marked the talks.

“Climate finance at international talks has morphed into a battleground, a glaring testament to years of neglect and deception by developed nations. These countries have not only skirted their historical responsibilities but have also consistently deployed delay tactics, shifting burdens onto the shoulders of developing countries. We are on the brink of a catastrophic failure of climate talks, harming those least responsible for the crisis. It is time for wealthy nations to confront their obligations head-on, to integrate substantial climate finance commitments into their national budgets, and to impose punitive taxes on fossil fuel corporations and the super-rich — those who have profited most from the exploitation of our planet," said Harjeet Singh, Climate Activist and Global Engagement Director for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.

On the new finance goal

The Hindustan Times reported on June 11 that there was no progress on talks to define a new collective quantified goal (NCQG). The US, on its part, repeated its stance on how contributing to the new fund, meant to replace the existing goal of $100 billion per year, should be voluntary. The Arab group, Cuba and African nations called for determining the quantum of the new goal.

Observers said developed countries especially the US and EU are essentially attempting to expand the number of climate finance donors by including emerging economies such as China, India, and West Asian countries and limiting beneficiaries to least developed countries and island states.

"Colleagues, in Dubai (COP 28), we came together. We overcame differences. Even though it was hard.   I have committed to you all that I’ll be an honest and neutral broker.  In that spirit, I can say that we’ve taken modest steps forward, here in Bonn.  But we took a detour on the road to Baku. Too many issues were left unresolved. Too many items are still on the table," said Simon Stiell, UN Climate Chief after Bonn talks concluded on Thursday.

This, however, goes against Article 9 of the Paris Agreement, which states that developed country parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.

Moreover, the poorest in developing countries are in urgent need of infrastructure to deal with climate disasters such as the ongoing extreme heat in several southern countries while these economies meet their nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement.

Research indicates that developing countries need trillions of dollars annually to combat climate change and address its impacts. "One report found that the financial requirements spelt out in countries' nationally determined contributions add up to around $5.8-$5.9 trillion cumulatively by 2030. Other estimates put this cost at $7.8-$13.6 trillion for the same time period," according to the World Resources Institute.

"Tension was palpable across the venue on the penultimate day of the 2024 June Climate Conference. Negotiators were keen to find agreement on outstanding issues—or at least ensure that discussions held in Bonn could feed into the next session. While progress was achieved on some issues, such as on the cooperative implementation of the Paris Agreement (Article 6), disagreements persisted in many others," said the Earth Negotiations Bulletin of the International Institute of Sustainable Development on Thursday morning.

Roadblock on Just Transition

The Just Transition Work Programme (JTWP) talks in the negotiations aim to facilitate countries’ just transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future through actions that also contribute to reducing inequalities both within and between countries. The JTWP will support knowledge-sharing and the development of best climate action practices in line with a just transition, according to the World Resources Institute.

The Third World Network (TWN), a non-profit international research and advocacy organisation focusing on North-South affairs tracking the ongoing climate talks in Bonn, said discussions on just transition hit a roadblock too.

"Feels like déjà vu with developed countries’ continuous attempt to limit the JTWP, this time blocking a proposal from developing countries to guide the implementation of the programme through a work plan,” the Network said.

(The JTWP was established in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt in 2022, for discussion of pathways to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement (PA). In Dubai last year, Parties finally agreed on the elements of the work programme, following stark divergences between developed and developing countries).

The work plan proposal initially came from the G77 and China when Parties reacted to the first draft text on JTWP, released by the Co-facilitators late night of 4 June. The Group was of the view that the text was not a good basis for further negotiations as most of the views from developing countries were not captured. The G77/China suggested developing a work plan that would cover the period until 2026 and the work plan can include enhancement to the process of the linkages between the dialogue and the negotiations.

The G77/China’s proposal was rejected by developed countries, including the United States (US), Canada, the European Union (EU), Japan and the United Kingdom (UK) according to the TWN network

The US said it does not support negotiating a new work plan. Canada commented that it is a “premature idea at this point” and suggested the creation of a work plan during the review process to take place in 2026 instead, citing the reason that “the JTWP is at its infancy stage."

Lack of acknowledgement

The Hindustan Times reported on June 12 that the rich countries or the Annex 1 nations were reluctant to even acknowledge that their emissions are in fact rising instead of declining rapidly as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The latest science from the IPCC indicates that greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels.

The draft negotiating text published on June 8 refers to findings of the synthesis of biennial reports from rich countries published last year, which states that no Annex 1 party will achieve their 2030 target set out in their nationally determined contributions, with existing measures. It further notes that, on the basis of existing measures, aggregate emissions of Annex 1 parties are projected to increase by 0.5% between 2020 and 2030.

“Developed countries like the US, European Union (EU), Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, Norway and Japan expressed a preference for only taking note of the report and refused to acknowledge the findings of the report. Japan and the US said they preferred this because “the report was already there,” the TWN reported.

Further, there has been no major progress on operationalising the Loss and Damage fund yet.

The Bonn talks will come to a close today. This means that parties will have to be motivated, work overtime, and resolve differences to deliver an ambitious deal at Baku before it’s too late.

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