Governments Set Priorities for Upcoming Global Climate Meeting

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Governments Set Priorities for Upcoming Global Climate Meeting
Under a bright blue sky, blue and white flags that say "United Nations Climate Change Conference" fly in front of a large, dark building with metal beams.
Flags fly outside the Bonn, Germany, venue for June’s United Nations Climate Change Conference. The U.N. will hold the 29th meeting of its Conference of the Parties in Azerbaijan, 11–22 November, as the effects of climate change continue to worsen around the world.
Maja Hitij AP Images

With only five months to go before the critical global climate negotiations in Baku, Azerbaijan, at the 29th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP29), negotiators from around the world met in Bonn, Germany, in early June. They were hoping to make substantial progress on a new finance goal, a global adaptation goal, and updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – the commitments that individual countries have made to reduce global emissions and the impacts of climate change – due in the next year. Government representatives who gathered in Bonn also discussed the role of the ocean in climate action through the annual Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue.

Negotiators made uneven progress in Bonn on these issues, leaving plenty to be hashed out when governments meet later this year in Baku, where they’ll be represented not only by negotiators but also by ministers and heads of state. Looking ahead to COP29, here are key takeaways from the Bonn negotiations.

Deep divides remained around new climate finance goal

Developing countries need more financial support if they are to fully realize the goals of the Paris Agreement – the sweeping 2015 U.N. deal that set a target of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and ideally not beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Negotiators in Bonn hoped to make progress on a new goal for climate finance that takes into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. This New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on Climate Finance, scheduled to be set this year, would exceed the previous goal of US$100 billion per year that developed countries agreed to provide to developing countries for climate solutions, which was supposed to be achieved by 2020. The Bonn conversations came against the backdrop of a recent climate finance report indicating that developed countries provided developing countries with US$115 billion in climate finance in 2022, meaning that although they met the US$100 billion goal, they did so two years later than promised. Developed and developing countries continue to hold diverging opinions about the new goal’s total amount; whether emerging developing economies should contribute to the fund; and the kind of financing that should be provided, such as through concessional financing – which would provide finance below market rate – or grants from developed countries to developing countries, rather than market-rate loans. Negotiators have set November’s COP29 as the deadline to agree on this new goal and are planning interim talks to make progress before that deadline.

Developing a Global Goal on Adaptation

Government representatives in Bonn engaged in talks on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), the cornerstone climate adaptation objective under the Paris Agreement. Because adaptating to climate change requires adjusting many different sectors of society and the natural world, countries agreed last year to focus on several areas under the GGA, including water and food security, human health, and infrastructure. In Bonn, talks on the GGA focused on charting the way forward to develop “indicators,” which countries could use in measuring their progress on climate adaptation. Once developed, these indicators will serve as key tools for countries, civil society, the U.N., and international financial institutions to use in tracking progress and informing the allocation of international adaptation finance, which remains severely underfunded.

Gaining momentum on nationally determined contributions

The negotiations provided an opportunity to spur momentum for upcoming NDCs, which are updated every five years and are designed to be progressively more ambitious. The next round is due next year, and negotiators widely recognized that current country commitments are well short of the Paris Agreement goals.

Panama represented one bright spot by submitting its updated NDC, well ahead of next year’s deadline, with a contribution that includes ambitious commitments to scale the protection, effective management and restoration of Panama’s coastal ecosystems, supported by research and technical projects delivered by The Pew Charitable Trusts and other partners. These commitments represent a timely statement of ambition for other countries across the region where Pew’s advancing coastal wetlands conservation project is also engaged and that are now embarking on their NDC updates, including Jamaica, Honduras, Costa Rica and Belize.

Harnessing ocean-based climate solutions

The Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue that took place during the Bonn meeting provided a focused time in the agenda to consider the role of the ocean within the U.N. climate talks. Throughout the Dialogue, governments, non-governmental stakeholders – including researchers and philanthropic organizations – and experts came together to address the unique challenges facing the ocean in the context of climate change.

This year, the dialogue focused on two key themes: (1) marine biodiversity conservation and coastal resilience and (2) technology needs for ocean-climate action, including financing. Government and non-government participants used the Dialogue to reinforce the importance of conserving coastal wetlands, expanding offshore renewables and furthering fisheries management approaches with ecosystem and climate adaptive benefits in mind.

On to Baku

The Bonn meeting showed how much work negotiators have to resolve for the upcoming COP29 climate talks in Baku to be a success, particularly when it comes to climate finance and updated NDCs. Countries will have to redouble their commitment to negotiations for a successful outcome at the talks, but although it will be difficult, all involved can still make COP29 in Baku a success by finalizing the new global finance goal and increasing the ambition of their domestic climate commitments.

Courtney Durham Shane is a senior officer and Ellen Ward is an officer with Pew’s conservation support team. Thomas Hickey works on The Pew Charitable Trusts’ protecting coastal wetlands and coral reefs project.

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