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UN Climate talks SB58 leave a bumpy road to COP28

The photo was taken during the Bonn Climate Conference 2023.
Bonn Climate Conference 2023. Photo by UN Climate Change on flickr.
  • Diplomats met in Bonn (5-15 June) for the annual mid-year UN climate change talks  
  • With 6 months to COP28, negotiations were a key opportunity to set high expectations and prepare for what governments must agree at COP28  
  • The meetings were a critical test for whether the UAE COP28 Presidency could build trust in their leadership of the process 

Story – SB58

At the end of two weeks of negotiations, there remain significant speedbumps on the road to COP28. Governments were only able to agree the agenda to the meeting on the penultimate day of conference. A proposal to discuss mitigation sparked strong pushback from some developing countries. Discussions on loss and damage ran well into the final day. Meanwhile, negotiations on the Global Stocktake – a centrepiece of COP28 – stumbled over debates about finance.  

The Bonn talks were also a key test of confidence in the UAE COP28 Presidency to deliver an ambitious outcome. However, the UAE offered little new information on its vision and plans to achieve it. Although they said that the phase down of fossil fuels is ‘inevitable’, the COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber will need to deliver a clearer vision and political pathway that attracts leaders’ attention to deliver a satisfactory outcome in Dubai.

SB58 Quotes

Commenting on the overall outcome of the talks, Alden Meyer, Senior Associate said:

“While we saw progress on some issues in Bonn, much hard work lies ahead if we are to see the game-changing climate summit the world needs in Dubai. Rather than blame-casting and tit-for-tat negotiating tactics, we need a recognition that the climate emergency requires us all to work together to create an upward spiral of ambition. The incoming UAE presidency must shift out of listening mode and provide more clarity on the benchmarks for success at COP28 as well as on its strategies to achieve them. Leaders and ministers must make full use of upcoming multilateral moments to step up to the challenge of decarbonizing the global economy at the pace and scale needed to avoid climate catastrophe, while also sharply scaling up resources to help vulnerable countries cope with the rapidly escalating impacts of climate change. It is still all to play for, but the missed opportunities here in Bonn mean there is no more time to lose.”

Commenting on the overall outcome of the talks, Tom Evans, Policy Advisor on Climate Diplomacy and Geopolitics at E3G said:

“The big prize at COP28 is an ambitious political deal in response to the global stocktake to get climate action on track. The stocktake will measure our progress towards meeting the Paris Agreement. We know we are failing to limit warming to 1.5C and unprepared for climate disasters. Yet here in Bonn, negotiators have been playing the blame game and pointing fingers at each other’s insufficient action. Meanwhile the UAE left governments in the dark on their plans for how they hope to get world leaders rallying around a shared vision. There’s a real risk we end up with a lowest common denominator outcome if champion countries don’t step in to cobble a deal together before COP28.” 

Commenting on Loss and Damage negotiations, Ines Benomar, Researcher, Risk & Resilience at E3G said:

“SB58 allowed parties to clarify their commitment to deliver on the mandate of COP27 to operationalise a loss and damage fund and funding arrangements at COP28. The transitional committee can build on the progress and constructive conversations to deliver firm recommendations on how to set-up a fund, enhance existing funding arrangements to reach climate vulnerable communities in developing countries. Time is of the essence, and we are running out of it. Countries should make use of all additional opportunities in the next few months to agree loss and damage financing. Eyes are set on the COP28 presidency who needs to show creativity and play a crucial role in brokering this deal.” 

Commenting on finance, Alex Scott, Programme Lead, Climate Diplomacy and Geopolitics at E3G said:

“Finance was the crux issue across negotiations in Bonn. The global economic situation is distracting political leaders, and this left a lack of direction and urgency amongst negotiators. The opportunity for broad transformation of finance system – set to be discussed at next week’s Paris Summit on a new global financing pact – has made its way into these climate change talks and provides some hope. However, under-delivery of climate finance and poor accessibility to available finance has eroded trust and is blocking accelerating action. Unambitious countries hide behind this to avoid scrutiny. Rich country leaders need to bring new finance and a willingness to reset the way it is distributed to next week’s Paris Finance Summit to break the deadlock.”

Notes to Editors

  1. E3G is an independent climate change think tank with a global outlook. We work on the frontier of the climate landscape, tackling the barriers and advancing the solutions to a safe climate. Our goal is to translate climate politics, economics and policies into action. About – E3G
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