Rich countries have already failed to fulfil their promise of providing $100 billion, pledged at the Copenhagen COP in 2009, to help developing countries combat climate change
The two-week mid-year UN climate talks held in Germany's Bonn ended on Thursday without finding a resolution to the dispute between developed and developing countries over finance. The developed nations emphasised the urgent need for mitigation measures, while the developing countries demanded adequate financial support to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
These mid-year talks set the stage for political discussions at the annual Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change later in the year.
Due to a stalemate on the issues of finance and mitigation, the governments could agree on the meeting's agenda only on the second-to-last day (Wednesday) of the conference.
The developed countries wanted that the "Mitigation Work Programme", which calls for urgently scaling up emission reduction efforts in this crucial decade to fight climate change, be included in the agenda. The developing countries, however, strongly opposed this, saying mitigation efforts cannot be discussed without considering finance.
At the Paris climate talks in 2015, countries agreed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as compared to the pre-industrial levels to avoid extreme, destructive and likely irreversible effects of climate change.
Earth's global surface temperature has risen by around 1.15 degrees Celsius and the CO2 spewed into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution is closely tied to it. In the business-as-usual scenario, the world is heading for a temperature rise of around 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
Climate science says the world must halve emissions by 2030 from the 2009 levels to keep the chances of achieving the 1.5-degrees target alive.
Developing countries argue that wealthier nations should take greater responsibility for emission reductions, given their historical emissions, and provide the necessary means of implementation, finance and technology to assist developing and vulnerable nations in transitioning to clean energy and adapting to climate change.
Rich countries have already failed to fulfil their promise of providing $100 billion, pledged at the Copenhagen COP in 2009, to help developing countries combat climate change.
The sluggish progress during the Bonn conference is also attributed to the differences between the developed and developing countries on the issue of finance.
Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Fellow, Council on Energy, Environment and Water, says, "Climate finance has become the achilles heel of climate negotiations, it should have been resolved long back. The European negotiators got a taste of the increasing resolve of the developing world on this issue, with the agenda being withheld from adoption for a week."
"Various groupings, including LMDCs (Like-Minded Developing Countries) and the Arab Group, rejected the inclusion of the Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) in the agenda in the absence of the inclusion of climate finance in the same. The developed world has to sooner than later accept the criticality of finance for low-income nations, and walk the talk on the same," he says. Talks on loss and damage continued until the final day of the conference.
Negotiations surrounding the Global Stocktake (GST) -- a two-year UN review to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Paris Agreement -- faced challenges due to debates over financial matters. The hosting of the Santiago Network for loss and damage, which could be either at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction or the Caribbean Development Bank, is yet to be decided.
The discussions on loss and damage also focused on finding innovative sources of finance, with Greenpeace advocating taxing fossil fuel company profits to fund the loss and damage caused by climate change.
Also, the host for COP29 in 2024 remains uncertain as the Eastern Group failed to agree on a recommendation due to geopolitical tensions related to Russia's war on Ukraine and the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict. The decision on the host will now be taken at COP28 in Dubai. In the event of a continued deadlock, Bonn could become the default location.
Expectations were high that recent warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report (IPCC AR6) would bolster climate policy and action. However, some developing countries raised concerns about the inclusiveness and robustness of the panel's findings.
The closing plenary of the talks also saw the developed countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU) nations, New Zealand and Australia, asserting that the IPCC AR6 report is the most comprehensive assessment of science to act upon.
Workshops on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) took place during the talks. Questions regarding finance and how adaptation efforts will tie into the GST remain. A recent report revealed that only 10 of the 26 wealthy countries have met their adaptation finance targets.
Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy, Climate Action Network, says, "The Bonn climate conference laid bare the glaring hypocrisy of wealthy nations, showcasing a remarkable indifference to the struggles of developing countries. Let us be clear: without honouring their financial pledges -- directly tied to their historical role in driving the climate crisis -- these affluent nations lack the moral authority to exert pressure on poorer countries."
"Developing nations face the monumental task of eradicating poverty, fostering green development and coping with escalating climate disasters. They deserve unwavering support, not undue pressure," he says.
Tom Evans, policy advisor on Climate Diplomacy and Geopolitics at E3G, says, "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 its plans for how it hopes to get world leaders rallying around a shared vision. There is a real risk that we will end up with a lowest common denominator outcome if champion countries do not step in to cobble a deal together before COP28."