It has been almost 10 days into the 2023 Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB58) yet progress on nearly all priority areas of negotiations is still to be recorded.
The midyear climate talks represent an important milestone on the road to the 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Dubai, on December 2023.
Formally known as the 58th session of the Subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), SB58 is expected to tackle many topics that will be crucial to the COP28 negotiations.
These sessions, which fall at a crucial point during the lead-up to COP each year, convene the two permanent subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).
Each year, the conference provides a steppingstone from the previous COP to the next by maintaining the momentum achieved at the last round of climate negotiations and providing a space to lay the groundwork for further progress in upcoming negotiations.
However, more than a week into negotiations, the SB58 Agenda is yet to be formally adopted with uncertainties over several negotiation tracks, including the global stocktake (GST), the global goal on adaptation (GGA), the just transition to sustainable societies, the mitigation work programme and loss and damage, among others.
It appears the negotiating parties are yet to come to terms with the rallying call made by UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell at the onset of the Bonn talks.
Stiell considers the global stocktake as “the opportunity of a generation to correct the course we are on, to design a way forward to tackle climate change with fresh vigour and perspective.”
The technical phase of the global stocktake is yet to be finalised, even though much ground has been covered, Observers in Bonn said. Equally hanging is the commencement of the political phase, which will work towards a strong outcome of the first stocktake at COP28.
Another pending task at SB58 is the preparation of decisions at COP28 to operationalise the new loss and damage fund and funding arrangements, along with a decision on the host for the Santiago network on loss and damage.
SB58 is also yet to agree on issues that touch on climate finance, notably the provision of adequate and predictable financial support to developing countries for climate action, including the new collective quantified goal on climate finance. Other important issues awaiting decisive action include increasing the transparency and accountability of climate action and minimising the impacts that climate change is having on the agriculture and food security sectors.
Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, Chair of the African Group of Negotiators revealed that progress had been made on issues related to the GST, but they are concerns about the GGA and the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) where significant progress is yet to be made.
“In terms of the technical aspects of the conference, 60%-70% progress has been made, but the major concern is the non-adoption of the conference agenda since the 5th June 2023 that we began, and that means that even the progress we have recorded is in danger of being lost in the event that the agenda is not adopted,” Shitima said.
The African Group had earlier demanded that the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) be concluded in Dubai with a strong decision that delivers the promise of Articles 2.1 (b) and 7 of the Paris Agreement and advances progress on resilience for developing countries.
They equally expressed their support for a more impactful Mitigation Work Programme linked to ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and implementation.
On Finance, the AGN Chair reiterated his call on Developed Countries to deliver and restore trust in the UNFCCC process. According to him, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) replenishment in October 2023 is an opportunity for Developed Countries to show the world that they are willing to do their part, to address climate change and support climate action in Developing Countries.
On the Work Programme for implementing climate action on Agriculture and food security, the African negotiators’ push for the establishment of an expert group for agriculture and food security at COP28 is gaining traction but yet to be finalised in Bonn. The negotiators reckon that an effective implementation of needed actions and activities for agriculture and food security in a changing climate context remains a key priority for Africa.
Meanwhile, 41 African civil society groups representing 200 million Africans, including small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, women, and youth groups under the aegis of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) have called on parties to the UN climate charter to listen to the voices of food producers and communities most affected by climate change’s impacts and adopt agroecology as a climate adaptation and mitigation measure to promote sustainable and resilient food systems and foster social and economic equity.
The Alliance made this appeal in response to the palpable lack of progress in the ongoing talks in Bonn.
According to Sameh Shoukry, President of last year’s COP27 in Egypt, the imperatives of a successful outcome for the Bonn talks cannot be overemphasised given that the climate crisis is becoming the new reality and we are forced to deal with its consequences on a daily basis.
“We must seize every opportunity to renew our science-based collective resolve to adhere to the principles of the UN Framework Convention and the Paris Agreement in order to strengthen our response to ensure observing the Paris temperature goal, keeping the 1.5 degrees within reach, effectively adapting to a changing climate and sufficiently responding to the different forms of losses and damages,” he said.
As negotiations in Bonn hit a crescendo this week, optimism for a fair and successful outcome is increasingly becoming a luxury, shared only by a few.
Courtesy: PAMACC News Agency