UN Bonn Climate Change Conference: WWF warns of a ‘worrying lack of momentum’ ahead of crucial COP28 summit

Posted on 15 June 2023

Pressure grows outside the talks for action to phase out all fossil fuels and accelerate renewables, writes Robin Harvey.
Bonn, Germany: Negotiators made some progress during the Bonn Climate Change Conference, but failed to send a strong signal that the world is united in confronting the climate crisis at speed and at scale. This puts even more pressure on the crucial COP28 UN climate summit, taking place later this year, to deliver the course correction needed to avert climate catastrophe.

Process issues plagued the talks in Bonn, with the agenda formally adopted only on the second to last day of the two-week session, although negotiations proceeded during this time under the provisional agenda. This delay, and the acrimonious discussions around it, revealed a concerning lack of trust between parties, particularly on the key issue of finance for developing countries.

Fernanda Carvalho, WWF global climate and energy policy head, said: “The Bonn climate conference showed a worrying lack of momentum towards our climate goals. This inaction is incompatible with the urgency needed, as highlighted by climate scientists. We don’t have time for any delays. Negotiators must use every opportunity between now and COP28 to build greater political trust and demonstrate the will to make the urgent changes needed across all sectors to tackle the climate and nature crises.”

Outside the formal negotiations, momentum is growing behind the call to phase out all fossil fuels. Ending the production and use of fossil fuels and transitioning to 100% renewable energy use is the solution that will have the largest impact on preventing the worst effects of the climate crisis. It is welcome to see this being increasingly recognised by some parties, and is becoming a key political issue ahead of COP28. 

WWF is calling on countries to commit to a phase out of all fossil fuels and fossil fuel subsidies, and to agree on a target for the rapid expansion of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access at COP28 in December. As UN Secretary General, António Guterres, said today: “...action must be global. It must be immediate. And it must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry.”

How to setup and finance the Loss & Damage fund agreed at COP27 was also the subject of many discussions in corridors between some parties, but was not on the Bonn agenda for any formal decisions.

The Bonn climate conference advanced some key negotiation areas ahead of COP28, which will be critical for cutting emissions, building resilience to climate impacts, and delivering finance, including:
  • The Global Stocktake - This critically important process will assess and respond to the world’s collective progress towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. The focus in Bonn was on completing the technical assessment and shaping the outcomes of the political phase, which must produce a roadmap to galvanize a global course correction towards limiting warming to 1.5℃. 
     
  • Mitigation Work Programme - The first Global Dialogue and Investment Focus Events were overall positive and constructive. However, the push by some parties for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a solution and gas as a transition fuel was concerning.
     
  • The Global Goal on Adaptation - The framework is still on track to be agreed at COP28. In Bonn, parties agreed to set out the critical elements, which will be further elaborate in upcoming workshops and at COP28.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global climate and energy lead, and COP20 President, said: “COP28 must be a COP of credibility, and there is much work to be done to rebuild trust between parties. We have key global political moments ahead - like the G20 Leaders Summit and the UN Climate Ambition Summit, among others - where leaders must re-energise the momentum needed to ensure successful outcomes at COP28. We need the same level of momentum as we had for securing the Paris Agreement. It is the only way we can effect the course correction we need so desperately.”  

CONTACT: 
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org 

NOTES:
  • WWF COP28 Expectations paper and thematic submissions are available to download here
     
  • The Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB 58) took place between 5 to 15 June 2023 at the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB). More information is available via the UNFCCC here
The Paris Agreement is a global treaty addressing how countries will tackle the climate crisis.
© IISD Reporting Service