Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) looks on during the opening session of the UNFCCC SB58 climate change conference in Bonn on June 5, 2023 in Bonn, Germany.

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Negotiators left the United Nations campus in Bonn, Germany this week with a palpable sense of frustration over key decarbonisation issues such as climate finance and the pace of reducing carbon pollution.

The climate change conference in Bonn, which ended late on Thursday, is designed to prepare decisions to be taken at the conference the COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates later this year. It is widely seen as an ongoing check on how talks are progressing ahead of the world’s largest annual international climate conference.

Many people at the two-week event missed many of the shortcomings on issues such as climate finance and the pace of reducing carbon pollution.

“Progress has been staggering on almost all fronts, with one main culprit: money,” said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute, a global nonprofit.

“Discussions about the first-ever global inventory are stuck on how to incorporate finance and support,” Waskow said. “This adds another hurdle to using the global inventory to mobilize transformative action from COP28 to reduce emissions, increase resilience and provide more finance.”

The United Arab Emirates, the third-largest oil-producing member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, will host the COP28 summit from November 30 to December 12.

Considered one of the most important climate conferences since the time of this landmark The Paris AgreementAt the Dubai summit, the UN will publish a global overview of the climate emergency – the first since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

In Bonn, however, low-income countries were deeply frustrated that the funding they had promised to implement their climate plans had not yet materialized.

WRI’s Waskow said that while the thorny issue of climate finance was not on the official agenda, it “clearly cast a shadow over the negotiations.”

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a press conference at the UNFCCC SB58 climate change conference in Bonn on June 13, 2023 in Bonn, Germany.

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“The Bonn climate conference exposed the glaring hypocrisy of rich countries and showed a remarkable indifference to the struggles of developing countries,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at the Climate Action Network, which includes more than 1,500 civil society groups.

“Let’s be clear: without honoring their financial commitments – directly linked to their historic role in managing the climate crisis – these rich countries lack the moral authority to put pressure on poorer countries,” Singh said on Twitter on Thursday.

Global inventory

For some, the battle to agree a formal agenda in Bonn encapsulated the struggle itself, with a compromise secured only a day before the meeting officially ended.

However, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell struck an optimistic tone about the potential for progress in the coming months.

“After nearly two weeks of agreeing on an agenda, it is easy to believe that we are far apart on many issues, but from what I have seen and heard, there are bridges that can be built to realize common ground, about that we know exists,” Stiell said Thursday.

“World-changing deals happen when negotiators seize the opportunity, reach out and find compromises, then succeed in convincing their capital city of the value and necessity of those compromises.”

Demonstrators demonstrate for climate justice, loss and damage, fossil fuels, human rights, exploitation of poor countries by rich countries and other climate-related issues during the UNFCCC SB58 climate change conference in Bonn on June 13, 2023 in Bonn, Germany.

Sascha Schuermann | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Stiell said the move represents “a moment to make amends to get the world on track to limit temperature increase in line with the Paris Agreement”.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Beyond this critical temperature threshold, it is more likely that small changes can trigger dramatic shifts in Earth’s entire life support system.

“Big polluters must be happy”

“It is a serious concern that while rich countries have blocked climate finance and justice discussions at every turn during these talks, carbon markets are quietly moving forward. Big polluters must be pleased,” said Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth International, an environmental group.

Work continued in Bonn to consolidate the global carbon market – where carbon credits are traded – under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Companies tend to use these markets to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Shaw, carbon markets serve as a “dangerous distraction” from meaningful climate action, undermining both the urgent transition away from fossil fuels and the additional finance owed to low-income countries.

The UN has long been criticized for including fossil fuel delegates and lobbyists at its annual climate conference. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is a major driver of the climate emergency.

With regard to COP28, Shaw said the conference was set to be a “huge battle” between high- and low-income countries.

“Developing countries are fighting for the climate finance they not only have, but need to ensure a fair transition to a new renewable energy system for all,” she added.

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