Bonn morning brief: Missing US climate cash raises tensions

Sign up to our newsletter list for all the news from Bonn, in your inbox, each morning of these critical talks – plus you’ll get our weekly wrap… every week of the year!

UN climate headquarters in Bonn (Photo:Axel Kirch/CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)


Egyptian ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, who chairs the 130-plus bloc of developing countries known as the G77 and China, told Climate Home News that Donald Trump’s reneging on climate finance has left questions other developed countries need to answer.

“I can’t speak on their behalf and they might sense that they have to step up to deal with the gap left by the United States,” he said. “We need to ask them how to address that gap.”

The EU responded by reaffirming its commitment to the developed world’s “collective” climate finance target of $100bn per year by 2020 – but would not be drawn on whether this meant other nations would need to step up.

Your views

Whether you have been in Bonn this past fortnight or following from afar, we want to hear from you. What were the highs and lows? These can be personal or political – if the two can be separated. Our online form is anonymous, so don’t be shy.

What next?

Late on Wednesday night, delegates commissioned the production of a negotiating text between now and the Bangkok meeting in September. This means that when negotiations move to Thailand, talks should begin in earnest.

Before the evening session, delegates told CHN they would be surprised if countries would be willing to trust appointed chairs to boil down all of the positions taken at these talks without their supervision. But, after including some caveats about how far they can go, a small but significant step forward was taken.

Kurtyka confirmed

Poland’s deputy energy minister Michał Kurtyka was confirmed as Cop24 president-designate by the eastern European group on Wednesday and took a seat at the top table for the closing session of the Talanoa Dialogue.

After a vain attempt by former environment minister Jan Szyszko to hold onto the job himself, Kurtyka’s position is now formalised. But he refused to speak with the media on Wednesday, asking for more time to become familiar with the climate process.

Kurtyka brings with him from the energy ministry advisor Agnieszka Kozłowska-Korbicz, who was head of logistics for Cop19 in Warsaw and the PR coordinator for Cop14 in Poznan. It sounds like he will need her experience.

Human rights warning

Five UN human rights experts have raised concerns with the Polish government about a recent law cracking down on demonstrations.

In a formal communication, they warned the surveillance powers given to police and rules against spontaneous demos in Katowice risked violating human rights.

“All eyes are on the Polish government to see how, as the host and the president of Cop24, it will honour its human rights obligations and uphold its responsibility to ensure free and unfettered access for broader participation,” they added in a statement.

Here’s a date for the activists’ diaries: the “high-level segment” where ministers deliver 3-minute statements, is scheduled to start on Tuesday 11 December.

Host with the most

The UK is interested in hosting the 2020 UN climate summit, clean growth minister Claire Perry reportedly told a conference in London. Her department confirmed. Perry said: “The UK leads the world in tackling climate change and we would be delighted to host COP26 here in the UK in 2020.  Other countries have also expressed an interest, and we will continue to engage on selection of a host nation.”

2020 is the year governments are due to submit another round of national climate pledges – hopefully, but by no means assuredly, with higher ambition. Steering talks to a credible outcome will take a lot of diplomatic nous. If the current state of Brexit negotiations is anything to go by, we can only hope the UK picks up a few skills between now and then.

Under the UN’s regional rotation system, it is the turn of western Europe “and others” to preside – the others being Israel, Turkey, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Turkey’s environment minister has also expressed an interest in hosting.

US-China pals

Spotted in the corridors of Bonn, the two diplomats from China and the US who have co-chaired negotiations on the transparency section of the Paris rulebook.

Laughing and relaxed, the two looked like great pals. On Wednesday morning, Climate Home News overheard them telling other negotiators they were heading into the final wrap up of the transparency section for these talks.

It may surprise readers to hear about positive US contributions that continue to happen inside these negotiations. But state department officials remain engaged and are working to land a deal on the rulebook in December.

The real story

Australia’s 2018 budget was released this week, just after countries had finished telling their national climate stories to one another in the Talanoa Dialogue. CHN wonders whether, if the dialogue had been held two days later, the Australian delegation would have told the story of budget cuts that the Sydney Morning Herald says will see spending on climate change fall from A$3 billion in 2017-18 to $1.6 billion for 2018-19?

Don’t bank on it

Multilateral development banks (MDB’s) are falling behind on their commitment to align their financial flows with the UN Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a report published on Wednesday at the UN climate talks in Bonn by think-tank E3G.

Six leading MDBs were assessed on the progress they had made in aligning their financial flows with the Paris climate goals, which they committed to in December 2017.

Helena Wright, Senior Policy Advisor at E3G and lead author of the report, told CHN that “there has been some progress, but all the banks could do more in proactively supporting other institutions in greening their investments.”

“Please do more”

At the closing session of the Talanoa Dialogue, Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama made a plea to developed nations to do more to help the victims of climate change.

“Please do more to tackle the fundamental causes of this suffering,” said Bainimarama. “Please do more to embrace the opportunities that will flow for your own people and the whole world from the transition to net-zero emissions economies.”

“Now is the time for action. Now is the time to commit to making the decisions the world must make,” he added.

Let’s keep talking

NGOs have called for the Talanoa Dialogue to continue in Bangkok after a positive reaction to the Fijian approach.

“The Talanoa Dialogue has the potential to raise ambition, to be able to help the world bridge the gap between what was pledged and the 1.5 degree commitment,” said Mohamed Adow from ChristianAid. “But we can only make it work if countries engage [in] that process.”

At the same press meeting, E3G’s Camilla Born commented on the need to “take the Talanoa Dialogue to the next level and together signal that [countries] will raise climate action” at COP24 in Katowice.

Read more on: UN climate talks