Perspectives

Reflections from the UN Climate Meeting in Bonn

Egypt takes the wheel on driving global climate action; negotiations focus on how the money will flow.

Photo of Egyptian desert landscape, with sky above, a line of sand along the horizon, and water below.
Egyptian Landscape Sunrise in the Western desert, Egypt. © Ronen Golan/TNC Photo Contest 2018

Earlier this month, mid-year negotiations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) wrapped up in Bonn, Germany. This yearly conference sees country negotiators step out of the spotlight of COP meetings to try and build on the previous COP’s successes, while improving its inadequacies, all aiming towards enabling a greater chance of success at November’s upcoming COP27.

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Egypt is now preparing to take the reins as President for COP 27, following the leadership of the United Kingdom last year. Egypt has already stated their priorities as COP Presidency are to decarbonize the global economy to reduce emissions and build more resilience to the effects of climate change.  Key to delivering these goals is the need for increased finance for developing countries, many of whom do not have the means to implement programs domestically; yet are already dealing with the need for serious climate adaptation for their communities. 

Dialogue over the two weeks in Bonn advanced a few key areas which will have real effects beyond the negotiation halls. Nations discussed the next long-term finance pledge to replace the current $100bn/year by 2020, which still hasn’t been completely met though we’re now two years past its original deadline. Additionally, we saw advancements on how carbon trading schemes can work between countries to increase overall ambition in their emissions reductions activities.  Each of these two workstreams could potentially increase the flow of climate finance.  

A portion of an glacier sits at the shoreline of a black sand beach under an overcast sky.
Time is running out Ice broken off from the Vatnajokull Glacier at Jokulsarlon Bay in Iceland. © Andre Mercier/TNC Photo Contest 2018

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We face a true global climate emergency, and only an emergency-level response can deliver the future we want and need.

Other Bonn focal areas included the Global Stocktake, which the Paris Agreement laid out as a time in the future when countries needed to take stock of emissions reduction progress and assess where we are, or are not, in keeping track towards 1.5 degrees.  The latest science from the IPCC has clearly demonstrated we are not yet close to the required path, and we must push for more ambition, but more importantly, immediate implementation of commitments already made. Action plans will only show results if they’re put into practice.

There were a couple promising announcements that suggest that implementation could come. First, after a domestic election, the Australian government brought forward a revised national commitment that would see the nation reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030, and to net zero emissions by 2050. This is a significant increase in ambition from previous targets. Additionally, the U.S. led discussions with other key developed countries in the Major Economies Forum to deliver significant new finance for global methane capture and escalation of clean energy technologies.

These are the kind of strategies that we need to see if the planet is to bend the curve to keep us below 1.5 degrees C of global temperature rise. There is no silver bullet when it comes to emissions reduction. Actions must reflect a full transition away from fossil fuels, while also investing in innovative carbon capture technology AND protection and restoration of critical nature-based solutions that can provide immediate sequestration benefits while benefitting communities and livelihoods.

Partially underwater photo showing coral reef with fish below water, and arid landscape and sky above, in Egypt.
At Stake in Egypt and Beyond Reef and fish with sunset, Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. © Y.M. Michael Fung/TNC Photo Contest 2018

We are now on the homestretch towards COP27. It is clear that the world has much to do to drive urgent climate action, and leveraging critical finance will be at the forefront of catalyzing that movement. It is imperative that Egypt recognize and welcome the responsibility they have as COP President, and make the push to provide necessary resource, capacity, and opportunity their top focus this November. The Nature Conservancy stands ready to assist and facilitate with all stakeholders, across the public and private sectors. We face a true global climate emergency, and only an emergency-level response can deliver the future we want and need.