Meeting in person for the first time following a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies focused on implementing the provisions of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Held in a way that gave prominence to more interactive discussion formats, the meeting of the subsidiary bodies achieved progress on some issues, including cooperative approaches, while leaving most others unresolved.
The Bonn Climate Change Conference, which included the 56th meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), took place in Bonn, Germany, from 6-16 June 2022, shortly after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) new report had issued a “damning indictment of the first 30 years of the Convention” and “an urgent call to action,” as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are now higher than in the past decade. It also convened at a time when “two parties are at war with each other, and the conflict’s shock waves are felt daily throughout the world.”
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) analysis of the meeting notes that while subsidiary body meetings have traditionally been “more technical, in the sense that they pave the way to higher-level negotiations and trade-offs at the COP,” negotiations in Bonn “were remarkably centered on the day-to-day work of the Convention.” Discussions focused on enhancing implementation, taking stock of progress, and ensuring alignment between reporting under the Convention and the Paris Agreement. Parties also continued negotiations on issues related to Article 6 (cooperative approaches) and adaptation under Article 13 – the only two Paris-related items carried over from the 2021 Glasgow Climate Change Conference where parties largely completed the Paris Agreement rulebook.
The Bonn Climate Change Conference “allocated significant time” for processes launched in Glasgow, including the Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation (GGA), the Glasgow Dialogue on loss and damage, a series of technical expert dialogues on the new collective quantified goal on climate finance; and an annual Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue. The ENB summary of the meeting notes that there were minimal overlaps with the negotiations, which, on some days, were “squeezed” into two one-hour slots.
Delegates generally welcomed the more interactive discussion formats, including the “world café” that took place under the Technical Dialogue of the Global Stocktake. Many called for increased efficiency of UNFCCC meetings and a shift from reading out statements towards “discussions on concrete actions.”
Developing countries, however, demanded “more than just dialogues,” which many described as mere “talk shops.” Proposals for inclusion of agenda items on the Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh GGA work programme and the Glasgow Dialogue on loss and damage at the beginning of the Bonn conference were hotly debated, and consensus was only reached to include the former. The ENB analysis of the meeting also indicates that “[v]ulnerable countries made clear in the first session of the loss and damage dialogue that they did not believe it was conducted in good faith” as it had “no clear direction” and “put aside the notion of a financial facility.”
Parties were able to reach agreement on intersessional work on Article 6 – a “welcome surprise,” given the difficult negotiations up to this point. Some sticking points remain on the transition from reporting under the Convention to reporting under the Paris Agreement’s Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF). “Negotiations towards operationalizing the Santiago Network on loss and damage and on the future of agriculture discussions under the UNFCCC remained … inconclusive.”
The high number of procedural conclusions adopted by the subsidiary bodies in Bonn, ENB notes, will “effectively [delay] any real negotiations” until the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the UNFCCC in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Several delegates feared that COP 27 will be “a difficult one,” with one expressing concern over “unseen forces shaping negotiations.” “The world is economically fragile, and an energy power is at war. Ministers are shifting priorities, trying to ensure energy security – and the process seems to act like that’s not the case,” he said.
COP 27 is scheduled to take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 7-18 November 2022. [ENB Coverage of Bonn Climate Change Conference]