Bonn bulletin: Crunch time for climate finance

Negotiators take on tricky topics in a slimmed-down finance text as UN climate chief calls for country transparency reports to shed light on NDC progress

Bonn bulletin: Crunch time for climate finance

Climate activists participate in a demonstration calling for loss and damage finance at the Bonn climate talks, on June 8, 2024 (Photo: IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth)


It’s the start of the second and final week of the annual mid-year UN climate talks, half-way between COPs, which take place every year in Bonn – the old capital of West Germany and the birthplace of Beethoven.

As the 8,000 or so delegates make their way to the World Conference Centre, next to the River Rhine and UN Climate Change’s tower block headquarters, Joe Lo and Matteo Civillini are headed there on the Eurostar thanks to your generous donations!

The first week of the talks passed off relatively smoothly – despite leaving a fair amount of work to finish by Thursday, the last day of the so-called SB60 meetings. Last year, it took nine days and desperate pleading to even agree on an agenda. This year, that was wrapped up without fuss on the opening morning.

That’s not to say there was no drama. At the start of the opening plenary, the head of Climate Action Network (CAN) International Tasneem Essop and Argentine climate justice activist Anabella Rosemberg – got up on stage uninvited.

Essop held up a Palestine flag and Rosemberg a sign saying “No B.A.U. [business as usual] during a genocide”. Both said they were doing it in a personal capacity, rather than as a part of CAN.

After the session was briefly suspended, they were escorted off the stage and out of the venue by UN security. The badges needed to access the talks were taken off them.

video of the incident shows the camerawoman – CAN’s head of communications, Danni Taaffe – telling a UN security guard “you’re hurting me”. He replies “good”. Taafe told Climate Home she has asked the UNFCCC how to file a complaint but has yet to receive a response.

Anabella Rosemberg and Tasneem Essop protest at the opening plenary (Photo: Kiara Worth/IISD ENB)

Shortly after the session re-started, the Russian government said it would block the agenda in protest at some of its delegation not receiving visas from the German government.

After some frantic phone calls to the German foreign office, the talks’ co-chairs received assurances that the visas were being sorted ASAP and the Russians agreed to resume.

Climate Home has heard from three sources that visa issues are not limited to the Russians and that some African delegates – both from government and civil society – had not received their visas either, or only did so after a lot of stress.

CAN Uganda’s Proscovier Nnanyonjo Vikman told Climate Home she arrived five days late and had to rebook her flight because of visa delays. She said the talks should be moved away from Germany to a place everyone can access.

“We don’t need to die coming to Bonn – let’s move” she said, adding that many feel “they are being harassed to enter a country that obviously doesn’t like them”.

Finance negotiators wear pink to show commitment to gender-inclusive financing on June 8, 2024 (Photo: IISD/ENB Kiara Worth)

Money talks

With the agenda adopted last Monday, negotiators on the post-2025 finance goal – known as the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) – started exchanging opinions on a 63-page draft text.  

At this early stage – with the NCQG due to be agreed at COP29 in Baku in November – many countries are keeping suggestions on specific figures close to their chest, particularly as the UN is due to release a needs determination report in October which will offer guidance.

But the Arab Group has put forward a figure of $1.1 trillion a year from 2025 to 2029. Of this, $441 billion should be public grants and the rest should be money mobilised from other sources, including loans offered at rates cheaper than the market.

The group, backed on this by the G77+China, has even suggested how developed countries could raise that sum – through a 5% sales tax on developed countries’ fashion, tech and arms companies – plus a financial transaction tax.

Military emissions account for 5% of the global total, said Saudi Arabia’s negotiator. This surprised many observers, as Saudi Arabia is the world’s fourth-biggest per capita spender on the military and gets much of its equipment from Western arms companies.

But developed countries insist they can’t stump up all the money and are asking for help. The EU’s negotiator said the NCQG should be a “global effort” while Canada’s said it should come from a “broad set of contributors”. In other words, wealthier and more polluting developing nations like the Gulf nations should also play their part.

But developing countries remain, at least publicly, united against these attempts to differentiate between them. They say developed countries have the money – it’s just a question of whether they have the “political will to prioritise climate change”.

The other emerging divide is whether to include a sub-target for loss and damage in the NCQG. Developing countries want this but developed countries are opposed.

Asked why, the EU’s negotiator told Climate Home the Paris Agreement “does not provide any basis for liability or compensation”, and that climate finance under the NCQG should consist only of two categories: mitigation and adaptation.

The talks’ co-chairs – Australian Fiona Gilbert and South African Zaheer Fakir have slimmed down the sprawling 63-page document they presented to Bonn into a mere 45-page one. Negotiators will continue hashing it out this week. Talks continue (and are livestreamed) at 3-5 pm today and tomorrow.

Technical fights over carbon markets 

After talks over the Paris Agreement’s carbon offsetting mechanisms collapsed in dramatic fashion at COP28, negotiators are trying to pick up the pieces.

A vast number of issues remain on the table, but diplomats have selected a number of highly technical elements to wrangle over in Bonn.

Observers said the mood is more cordial than in Dubai, but the underlying battle between a tighter regulatory regime and a ‘no-frills’ approach is still very much alive.

Much discussion time last week was taken up with the thorny issue of establishing a process for countries that host offsetting projects to authorise the release of carbon credits.

This is important as approval triggers a so-called ‘corresponding adjustment’, meaning governments can no longer count those emissions reductions towards their national climate targets.

A sizeable group of developing nations – including China, Brazil, the African Group and least-developed countries (LDCs) – want to be able to revoke or revise those authorisations in certain circumstances under Article 6.2 – the mechanism for bilateral exchange of credits.

That would afford them flexibility in case they give out too many offsets and this puts hitting their own climate targets at risk. But a group of developed countries and small-island states are pushing back.

Negotiators are also debating once again whether activities aiming to “avoid” – rather than reduce – emissions should be allowed in the new UN carbon market under Article 6.4. Most countries are against that, while only the Philippines are actively pushing for their inclusion.

As some observers have pointed out, giving a green light to the inclusion of emission avoidance could create some perverse incentives, such as fossil fuel companies promising to leave some oil or gas fields unexplored, then quantifying the avoided emissions and selling them as carbon offsets.

Transparency call 

UN Climate Change head Simon Stiell has just made a speech reiterating a call by COP29 host nation Azerbaijan for countries to get their biennial transparency reports in by November’s Baku summit.

These reports are new. Only Andorra and Guyana have published them so far. They are intended, as Stiell put it, to “shine a light on progress”, showing whether countries are on track with their national climate plans or “are the lights flashing red on the console?”

They don’t have to be perfect, he said. “Nobody is expecting countries facing enormous human and economic challenges to submit a platinum-standard report first time around”. But, he added, “I encourage you all to submit the best possible report you can, this year.”

News in brief

Costly climate damage: Extreme weather has caused more than $41 billion in damage in the six months since COP28, according to a new report by Christian Aid. Four extreme weather events in this time – all scientifically shown to have been made more likely and/or intense by climate change – killed over 2,500 people, it says. They encompass flooding in Brazil, the UAE and East Africa, and heatwaves across Asia. The charity says these figures underscore the need for more loss and damage funding.

How to set a ‘good’ 2035 target: Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has released a guide for the 2035 targets countries must include in their next NDCs, saying they should be ambitious, fair, credible and transparent, with developed countries ramping up climate finance. They also need to strengthen their existing 2030 targets, which “are far from” aligned with the 1.5C global warming limit, it adds. Climate Analytics CEO Bill Hare warns that the CAT projection of warming from current policies is still at 2.7C – unchanged from 2021. “Governments appear to be flatlining on climate action, while all around them the world is in climate chaos, from heatwaves to floods and wildfires,” he warns.

Raise the bar for NDCs 3.0: new briefing from the Energy Transitions Commission, a coalition of industry and other players in the energy sector, says that if governments reflect existing policy commitments made at COP28 and nationally, as well as the latest technological progress, in the next round of NDCs (known as NDCs 3.0), overall ambition levels could almost triple. That would save around 18 gigatonnes of CO2e per year in 2035 and put the world on a trajectory to limit warming to 2C, the commission says.

Forests missing in NDC action: Despite global commitments to halt deforestation by 2030, only eight of the top 20 countries most responsible for tropical deforestation have quantified targets on forests in their current NDCs, says a new report from the UN-REDD Programme. Current NDC pledges submitted between 2017–2021 do not meet the 2030 goal to halt and reverse deforestation, it adds. NDCs must integrate existing national strategies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) – which 15 of the 20 countries have adopted – while the NDCs 3.0 should include concrete, measurable targets on forests, it recommends.

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