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Progress made at Bonn climate summit

Progress made at Bonn climate summit

The annual climate talks in Bonn ended in mid-June. Many issues were negotiated during the nearly two-week meeting, but there is not much left to conclude at COP29 in the fall.

“What we have fundamentally lacked from the EU and Sweden is finding clearer and more concrete ways forward in terms of working to reduce emissions,” says Mattias Frommeri, Sweden’s climate ambassador and chief climate negotiator.

This year’s climate talks in Bonn are an important part of the negotiations ahead of the autumn COP29 climate meeting in Azerbaijan. The more that becomes clear during the Bonn negotiations, the greater the potential for progress at the COP meetings.

But this year’s Bonn meeting was a bit of a disappointment. During negotiations on how to monitor progress on the Paris Agreement as a whole, the EU wanted the review to include all parts of the global review that took place at COP28 in Dubai. Instead, the negotiations got bogged down in arguments about how to do the follow-up and what parts of the Paris Agreement should be covered. This in turn threatens to undermine countries’ national commitment plans, which must be submitted by February 2025 at the latest. If national climate plans fail to deliver enhanced commitments next year, that would be a cause for concern.

– We will spend a lot of time presenting climate solutions that can contribute to global transformation and sharing our experiences. We want to shift perspective and see it this way: yes, it is a big task for change, but there are also big opportunities, says Matthias Frommeri.

Another example of the slow progress of the negotiations in Bonn is the work programme for reducing emissions issued by the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties in Glasgow.

“We struggled there to have more robust content and exchange on what countries could do to drive action on reducing emissions. But there too, we ended up having a lot of discussions on action,” says Matthias Frommeri.

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Countries want to delay the transition

It is primarily the like-minded developing countries group, led by China and Saudi Arabia, that wants to limit discussions to what the negotiating process should look like. They oppose more concrete proposals on what countries should do to accelerate the rate of emissions reductions.

Mattias Frommeri is Sweden's climate ambassador and chief climate negotiator.
Photo: Gunilla Stromberg

According to Matthias Frommeri, many parts of the world are already well into this transition. Countries that are heavily dependent on fossil fuels in their economies are therefore trying to find ways to prevent the transition from happening too quickly so that they are not hit too hard. Getting involved in negotiations on measures could be a way to buy some countries more time to adapt.

Does this mean there is a risk that the relevance of the UN climate negotiations will diminish as some countries drag their feet and others move forward in the transition?

– There is a risk that the importance of the UN climate negotiations will decrease if they continue like this for a longer period of time, but we also have examples that point in the other direction, for example when it comes to the number of participants in the COP meetings, says Matthias Frommeri.

In recent years, UN climate meetings have increasingly become gathering places not only for UN Member States, but for all actors from academia, civil society and business who see themselves affected by climate change and want to contribute to climate action.

Another issue that the EU has been pursuing for several years is the restructuring of financing flows to support the temperature target and increase resilience. This is also part of the Paris Agreement.

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– In my world, it is about financial flows, whatever their content, and they must not work against the Paris Agreement. “We have been trying for several years to find models for this,” says Matthias Frommeri.

The stumbling block in these contexts is that some low- and middle-income countries believe that only high-income countries should adjust their financial flows, which is completely wrong, according to Matthias Frommeri. But despite the fact that the G20 countries, which consists of the European Union and 19 large economies, for example, have signed commitments to reduce fossil fuel subsidies, even those countries are reluctant to move too fast with their subsidies. economies and populations. But Matthias Frommeri believes there is hope.

– As the use of renewable energy expands, the need for fossil fuel subsidies will decrease.

However, he believes it is important to remind G20 countries of their commitments. Among other things, fossil fuel subsidies of around $500 billion a year can be compared to the commitment to provide $100 billion to support climate action in developing countries each year.

– Here we can connect to the discussion about diverting financial flows. If we used the $500 billion to make concrete climate efforts instead, that would free up resources.

Given that COP29 was highlighted as a finance meeting, how much focus was there on finance issues during the Bonn meeting?

– One of the key negotiating issues at COP29 will be the new financing target. We normally do not discuss financing issues during the Bonn meeting, but since the new financing target will be set this fall, preparatory discussions have been held on this topic.

Tough negotiations over new funding target

Even in this region, countries are far apart, says Matthias Frommeri. There will be tough negotiations this fall, and the most important issue will be the size of the new target. The current target of $100 billion per year in climate finance should be the minimum for the new financing target. The Arab countries have proposed $1,400 billion per year. From the EU side, it is important to determine who will participate and contribute to achieving the new target. The global economy has evolved since the 1992 climate agreement and the identification of donors. Today, the EU considers it reasonable, for example, for China and the Gulf states to participate and contribute to climate finance.

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– It will be difficult to convince more countries to join the donor circle, says Matthias Frommeri.

He also highlighted that the relationship between COP29, the UN Future Summit and the 2025 meeting on financing for development will be important. Many developing countries highlight, among other things, the problems of heavy debt burdens, lack of access to finance and the need to reform the international financial system.

– It will be important to place the new financing target in the context in which many developing countries find themselves.

Matthias Frommeri believes it is also important to discuss the underlying economic conditions. He mentions, for example, that budgets are in place that include climate aspects and do not finance fossil fuels, that aid money is climate-proof, and that developing countries demand this kind of aid.

– Perhaps most important is an investment climate that attracts the kind of investment that is needed. It also benefits things other than climate action, but beyond that, there is the need for freedom from corruption, functioning institutions and the rule of law, says Matthias Frommeri in conclusion.