Stockholm (NordSIP) – The two-week long Climate Change Conference organised in Bonn, Germany by the United Nations came to a close last week to lukewarm reviews. The official line from UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa was that “parties have made progress in several technical areas.” This had been the first opportunity for the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to meet since the COP26 in Glasgow last year.
The aim of this conference was to do the groundwork necessary for concrete measures to be discussed and agreed at November’s COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. However little progress was made towards addressing some of the key concerns of developing countries. The broader context is one of developing nations agreeing to implement climate mitigation measures while not having been significantly responsible for historic greenhouse gas emissions. They believe that their mitigation and adaptation costs should therefore be largely supported by the USA and European nations. The front line of this “Loss and Damage” battle consists of the low-lying Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that will be most immediately physically affected by climate change.
Conrod Hunte, representing the 39-strong Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) on a panel dedicated to Adaptation Finance, put forward the case for a dedicated loss and damage financing facility as the conference began. He was to be ultimately disappointed as the topic of compensation did not make it onto the official agenda for COP27. In his closing remarks, Hunte echoes Executive Secretary Espinosa’s remarks: “There are some incremental steps that our group can highlight coming out of this session.” However, he quickly stresses that “this would give a false narrative – we are disappointed by the lack of substantive progress in critical areas.” He goes on to state that after two weeks of discussions the SIDS still do not have any assurance that the finance they need will be delivered at the scale or speed required. He warns that “the climate emergency is fast becoming a catastrophe, yet within these walls the process feels out of step with reality – the pace is definitely too slow.”
The Bonn Climate Change conference appears to have done little to dispel the lingering sense of frustration and disappointment that many observers felt after COP26 in Glasgow. The message coming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN Secretary General, the International Energy Agency (IEA), most national governments and major non-government organisation (NGOs) is unanimous: we have less than a decade to radically transform the global economy to try and limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Coupled with the financial and political challenges of “loss and damage” compensation as well as a widespread need for resilience and adaptation investments, the participants in COP27 certainly have their work cut out.