Countries have started gathering in Bonn, Germany from June 5 for the UN’s mid-year climate conference, also known as the meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB58). Led by two bodies within the UNFCCC, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), the conference will lay the groundwork for the 28th UN Conference of Parties (COP28) in December this year. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has sent an expert team to the Bonn meet to track the negotiations.
Setting the context, CSE director general Sunita Narain said: “2023 is a critical year for the aim of driving equitable climate ambition. Countries in the Global North, which have already appropriated a giant share of the carbon budget, should not be given a free pass on the continued use of natural gas, a significant contributor to warming. The global energy transition pathway has to be for all fossil fuels.”
“We also need a global deal on renewable energy for energy access for the poorest and most vulnerable in the world,” Narain added.
COP27 and after
COP27, hosted by Egypt last year, had precipitated the establishment of a loss and damage fund. On finance, Parties had called for reform of multilateral development banks and other global financial institutions. On adaptation to the impacts of ongoing extreme weather events and slow onset events due to climate change, Parties agreed on creating a framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation which would allow them to generate ambition and track progress under the global stocktake process.
Says Avantika Goswami, programme manager, climate change, CSE: “While the goal of phasing down fossil fuels as proposed by India did not achieve consensus, COP27 reiterated earlier calls “towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” and called for a just transition to renewable energy.
Since COP27, the IPCC has published its Synthesis Report from the Sixth Assessment Cycle which has reiterated the urgency of halving emissions by 2030, if we are to stand a chance of achieving the 1.5C goal laid out in the Paris Agreement. However, Goswami points out that the war in Ukraine has muddied the waters – energy security concerns have become prominent.
Wealthy countries have doubled down on their attachment to natural gas, particularly LNG, as evidenced by the G7 announcement at Hiroshima, Japan last month. They are also eager to capture the green supply chains of the future by unveiling large green subsidies, and trade-restricting carbon border taxes.
The large emerging economies have been at the center of discussions on the energy transition, with experts at CSE and beyond calling for the transition to be equitable so that the development goals of these countries are not compromised.
Goswami says: “Most importantly, the conversation on finance has elevated this year. The question of much-needed reforms to the global financial architecture that is disadvantageous to developing countries in many ways, has become a central priority for the climate community.”
Narain agrees, saying “this year is about money”. She adds: “For countries of the Global South, the focus should be on the lack of concessional finance to drive the energy transition. We need to find ways to ensure that countries come up with sectoral pathways for decarbonisation, and that these pathways list the financial gaps for which funding should be secured.”
Goswami adds: “The spotlight must be on finance in various concrete forms – filling up a loss and damage fund, concessional finance for the energy transition and decarbonisation in developing countries, more financing for adaptation, and progress on the NCQG towards an ambitious new goal reflective of the true needs of the developing world.”
“In Bonn, loss and damage discussions must resolve the disagreements from the two Transitional Committee meetings held after COP27 and move towards resolution so that the next two TC meetings can deliver the recommendations on the full operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28,” says Akshit Sangomla, correspondent at Down To Earth, who will also be reporting from the conference.
What will countries discuss in Bonn?
- Global Stocktake: 2023 is the year that the Global Stocktake (GST) — the report card on the Paris Agreement’s goals — ends. It provides an opportunity to “correct the course we are on”, according to the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell. In Bonn this month, the Third meeting of the Technical Dialogue will be held, and thereafter, the information collection and technical assessment phase of the GST will conclude, leading to the final political phase. The GST process, once completed, must act as a “ratchet mechanism” to create more ambition for climate change mitigation, adaptation, finance and technological support in line with equity.
- Loss and damage: The second Glasgow Dialogue will take forward discussions held in the two meetings and a workshop of the transitional committee (TC) on Loss and Damage. The TC was established with 24 members (14 from developing countries and 10 from developed countries) to decide upon the sources of finance for the loss and damage fund (LDF), established at COP 27, and its functioning and governance. Bonn will be a good opportunity for Parties to correct course to make the LDF fully operational by COP 28 as divergent views about the scale and scope of the fund have emerged in the two meetings of the TC.
- Mitigation: The Mitigation Work Programme will take discussions to the next level in Bonn with a Global Dialogue planned, followed by an Investment-Focused Event. The co-facilitators have set the tone by choosing “accelerating just energy transition” as the theme for discussions in 2023. This Work Programme has the potential to offer a constructive space for developing countries to lay out their financing and technological needs to drive more climate ambition.
- Adaptation: The 6th workshop of the Glasgow Sharm El Sheikh Work Programme (GlaSS) on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) will be held in Bonn, June 4-5. At this workshop Parties will take forward the discussions from the 5th workshop held in March that discussed transformational adaptation taking into account the knowledge of indigenous communities around the world, various cross-cutting issues and changing mindsets. The theme of the 6th workshop would be discussions around metrics, indicators and methodologies for establishing the framework for GGA. This would pave the way for the 7th and 8th workshops.
- Finance: While the US $100 billion climate finance goal may be met this year, discussions on the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance will continue at Bonn. The Sixth Technical Expert Dialogue will deliberate on the “quantum” of money for the new goal as well as “mobilization and provision of financial sources”.
- Article 6: Under Article 6, the SBSTA would further the work on the development of the necessary rules and procedures to implement the cooperative approaches outlined in Article 6.2. Regarding Article 6.4, the body would work to shape the responsibilities of the supervisory body and the participating parties in the mechanism. Additionally, the body would consider matters such as the appropriateness of including emission avoidance and conservation enhancement activities under Article 6.4.
( A CSE Briefing)