60th Bonn Intersessionals: Climate finance dominates, mitigation of emissions goes unheard

Global transition| Climate action

Written by:
James Trinder, International Climate Policy Coordinator

Emilia Runeberg, Climate and Development Policy Coordinator 

Last November, consensus at COP28
was hailed as a “historic” break-through with parties committing to transition away from fossil fuels, to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency. Yet, many countries continue to expand fossil fuel exploration and extraction. Sadly, the 2024 Bonn Sessions saw very little substantive discussion over measures targeted at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Taken together, the G20 accounts for 76% of GHG emissions (and the G7 approximately 23% within that figure), so it is abundantly clear that they need to lead on compliance with the UAE Consensus. The main vehicle for this is supposed to be the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCS), which are due to be ‘enhanced’ by every country by February 2025 at the latest, via submission to the UN’s NDC Registry, incorporating learnings from the first Global Stocktake which wrapped up last year at COP28. 

Sadly, many Parties are dragging their feet in the process, which will likely lead to delays. This is perhaps forgivable in cases where Parties (especially those from poorer countries) lack capacity and resources to develop comprehensive, economy-wide, ambitious NDCs – however, where developed economies don’t design and implement enhanced NDCs on time, it feels utterly inexcusable. 

Finance and resources (part of the ‘means of implementation’) were firmly in the foreground at Bonn, which is crucial to understanding the lack of progress achieved in other negotiating rooms – especially related to the mitigation of GHG emissions. It seems as though a ‘stalemate’ over the UAE Consensus has emerged, with little progress expected until the richest countries lead the transition and pay their obligations to the poorest. Turning attention to European powers, we must pose the question – how do they intend to help break the stalemate? Perhaps enshrining their financial obligations to the poorest within their NDCs, alongside a target for ensuring funds are dispersed in a timely manner, could provide the assurance needed to provoke more ambitious climate action worldwide. 

With the focus so heavily on the obligations of rich countries to find the finance to support the poor, it will be important for CAN Europe to follow up with national governments, especially the G7 countries and the richest polluters in the world, to find a once-in-a-generation solution to fix the financial climate crisis that will unlock climate action in every continent. From the EU, we expect the key COP-mandate setting meetings of the ECOFIN and ENVI to take place in October. CAN Europe will be working closely with EU institutions and the incoming Presidency to develop a credible package ready for Baku.

Climate Finance

Climate finance dominated the negotiations in Bonn, where the 60th intersessional meeting of the subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC wrapped with worryingly meagre results. 2024 is the ‘finance year’ in climate policy – a decision on a new international climate finance goal is expected at COP29 in November. This New, Collective, Quantified Goal (NCQG) is to determine how developed countries – responsible for the majority of GHG emissions accumulated in the atmosphere – will continue to financially support climate action in developing countries suffering from the increasing impacts of the climate emergency. 

Negotiations on the new goal have been on-going for the past years, with very little substantive progress seen in technical negotiations and political dialogues meant to move parties closer to common positions and proposals. The Bonn finance negotiations marked the second last technical sessions before the COP. Sadly, apart from producing an 35 page input paper with no status, progress on NCQG was timid. The text, also referred to by delegates as a “Christmas tree”, essentially remains a summary of all parties’ proposals, including many that contradict each other. 

Clearly, the EU and richer countries must recall that international climate finance is essential for all dimensions of security, and failing to step up in light of the finance needs of developing countries would only exacerbate fragility, resource scarcity including energy and food insecurity, conflict and geopolitical competition. The EU must come fully prepared to the remaining policy milestones this year, to make sufficient, meaningful financial commitments, especially in the form of grants. The EU Ministers on Economy and Finance play a central role in this, and must work quickly and in concert with climate negotiators and all relevant actors. Positively, there is increasing intention internationally on what role new sources could play to generate additional money for climate action from big polluters and profiteers including from beyond the “classic” developed countries, and the EU should have a closer look at which sources it can help become reality. A recent CAN Europe report has some suggestions for this. 

The Mitigation Work Programme

There was little progress in the MWP, and many feel alarmed that the discussions have not advanced. It leaves the UNFCCC Parties very poorly positioned to collectively reduce emissions by 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 from 2019 levels, indicated by the IPCC and confirmed by the Global Stocktake outcomes. This can only be achieved by enhanced NDCs which should be the focus of this work programme, and the main deliverable in 2025 for all countries, especially rich ones. Instead, the negotiating room was dominated entirely by discussion over process, including through roadblocks put up by some of the fossil fuel producing countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia or Iran, not even an informal note was allowed to pass. This is regarded by some as one of the worst possible outcomes as it gives no formal recognition to the discussions that took place in Bonn. At times it felt as though high-emitting Parties were intentionally grinding substantive discussion (on mitigation & emissions reduction) to a halt. 

For many, hopes are with the Troika (the outgoing UAE, incoming Azerbaijan and next-in-line Brazil COP Presidencies). If the Troika publish their own ambitious NDCs by the February 2025 deadline, they can then make the most of their unique ability to influence and cajole other countries to deliver ambitious NDCs. It is vital that the EU and other large European powers work hard and fast to deliver ambitious NDCs that eradicate fossil fuel investments and rebalance societies – and dedicate time, effort and resources to supporting poorer countries to achieve the same. By the time we reach Baku, CAN expects those efforts and resources to be in full flow, to create a constructive space for the MWP.

The Just Transition Work Programme
The Just Transition Work Programme was a relatively positive and constructive part of the UNFCCC Bonn Sessions which helped to give the platform the momentum it needed. A concluding text was agreed that incorporated most of CAN Europe’s priorities, including: a second hybrid dialogue under the work programme to be held prior to COP29, with topics selected in a transparent and consultative manner, with specific language on effective and inclusive participation of non-party stakeholders. The conclusion also included an informal summary of the discussions and references to the informal note (with placeholders for  the work plan, and guidance towards concrete outcomes and actionable solutions).

The EU should continue championing the Just Transition Work Programme and push for concrete outcomes and actionable solutions, as well as funding associated with justice and just transition. There still exists a range of perspectives on ‘just transition’ – some view justice as tackling the growing human development gap, whilst others perceive it to refer to a Indigenous rights, worker’s rights and/or a gender-oriented transition. These will be questions that continue to come up in the approach to Baku.


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