New finance goal needed to protect climate momentum from a Trump win 

Comment: The victims of the climate crisis will need support, and the energy transition will need to be funded, whoever is elected as the next US president

New finance goal needed to sustain climate momentum if Trump wins


Mohamed Adow is the founder and director of Power Shift Africa 

There’s no getting around it. The recently concluded climate talks in Bonn have left the goal of limiting global heating to under 1.5C in peril.  The reason: rich countries are backtracking on their financial pledges.   

The crucial deadline for next year’s new national climate plans, known as NDCs – which are the bedrock for the collective global effort to tackle climate change – are now in danger. This is because developing countries have no assurances that the climate finance they were promised, and which fund the NDCs, will be there.  

The theme of this year’s COP29 summit in Baku, Azerbaijan, is supposed to be climate finance. It is the meeting where the world is tasked with agreeing a new long-term global finance goal.  

This goal is the key ingredient to tackling climate injustice, and how we help vulnerable people adapt to the climate crisis and fund the transition to a zero-carbon energy system. However, at the mid-year talks in Bonn this month, rich countries dragged their feet, blocked progress and deliberately offered only vague signals about their intentions.  

UN climate chief warns of “steep mountain to climb” for COP29 after Bonn blame-game

They also attempted to unpick the commitment they made at COP28 in Dubai: to have an annual dialogue specifically on climate finance. They are now suggesting it cover other issues.  

Rich countries also used up valuable time arguing about who should pay the bill, trying to get some developing countries to also be included in the donor base. This was something they continued to talk about in the G7 summit communique issued this weekend. Delay and fudging on the new climate finance goal are hugely dangerous because the Bonn session was crucial to ensuring a successful COP29. 

Waiting for US election? 

COP summits take a huge amount of preparation with negotiators taking all year to lay the groundwork for the final landing zones that will be finalised this year in Baku. Leaving it all to the last minute would be disastrous and could result in a failure that derails international momentum on climate change just as Donald Trump is elected US President. 

The infuriating go-slow in Bonn seems to be because countries are waiting for the result of this election before making any finance commitments. This is folly.   

The need for a coalition of the sensible – to counter the ignorance and malice emanating from a potential Trump White House – will only be greater should the Republican candidate win.  

The victims of the climate crisis will need support, and the energy transition will need to be funded, whoever is elected as the next US president. Dragging out the process to the point where Baku might end up being a chaotic rush will only make things worse.  

COP29 host lacks influence 

The horrors of climate change continue to rage daily. Heatwaves mercilessly ravage lives, with over 100 people reported dead in India and over 50 lives claimed in Sudan during the Bonn talks. These are not just statistics; they are human lives from vulnerable countries, who once dared to hope for a better tomorrow.  

The dark clouds forming over Baku are compounded by the fact that the Azeri presidency for COP29 is inexperienced, with few diplomatic allies and lacking in geopolitical or economic weight to knock heads together as needed. The lack of a strong host in 2024 means we need to see leadership from other quarters. 

Bonn talks on climate finance goal end in stalemate on numbers

Those other would-be leaders must ensure that the negotiators see the coming dangers ahead and work to catch up and avoid them. The crucial opportunities for this are the UN General Assembly summit in September and the pre-COP meeting in Baku. It’s vital that much clearer and more ambitious negotiations take place so that ministers have a streamlined process when they get to Baku in November.   

Without that, we risk getting an underwhelming finance goal or even a failed COP. That would imperil millions of people who need climate finance, as well as taking the wind out of the sails of the NDCs from developing countries, which are due to be published next year.  How can these poorer countries be expected to slay the climate dragon with paper swords, having gotten zero assurances on the long-term finance they need?  

If countries can set a clear and unambiguous path for future finance in Baku, then the world will be set up for a hope-filled and ambitious round of climate action plans next year. This is the best way to protect the world from the volatility of the US election. The work to achieve that starts now.  

Read more on: Climate finance | Climate politics | Comment | Cop29 | UN climate talks