Hundreds of Ministers and diplomats from around the world are gathering in Bonn, Germany, this week for the annual UN Climate Change Conference at the headquarters of the UN’s climate secretariat in a bid to “lay the groundwork” for this autumn’s COP27 Climate Summit in Egypt .
Officially opening the talks yesterday, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said the onus was on governments to demonstrate that they are making progress to deliver on the commitments made at last year’s landmark COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, which culminated in the Glasgow Climate Pact.
She that warned significant action was needed in the key areas of climate mitigation, adaptation, support to developing countries, and loss and damage to build on the pledges made at COP26.
“We urgently require political-level interventions and decisions in each of these areas in order to achieve a balanced package,” she said. “Doing so will send a clear message to the world that we are headed in the right direction. Because the world is going to have one question in Sharm El-Sheikh: what progress have you made since Glasgow?”
She that warned without urgent action the promise to ‘keep 1.5C alive’ that was at the heart of the Glasgow Climate Pact would be quickly broken.
“We must move these negotiations along more quickly,” she said. “The world expects it. They know that while nations made a commitment to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C goal, that commitment entailed accelerated action and increased climate ambition. It is not acceptable to say that we are in challenging times – they know that climate change is not an agenda we can afford to push back on our global schedule.”
Espinosa’s comments were echoed by COP26 President Alok Sharma, who similarly called on governments to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting turmoil on global energy and commodity markets by doubling down on their decarbonisation strategies.
“[This conference] is a key milestone in the climate negotiations process to accelerate climate action in line with the Glasgow Climate Pact and other UNFCCC decisions,” he said. “The hard work on climate action didn’t stop in Glasgow. Our in person discussions… will be critical to real practical action and finding common ground ahead of COP27 in November.
“This session is taking place against the backdrop of’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine. We must demonstrate this has increased, not diminished, our determination to deliver on climate action.”
The Glasgow Climate Pact centerd on a commitment for countries to review their national climate action plans – or nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in the UN jargon – and strengthen them if they are not in line with a 1.5C warming trajectory. It also contained promises to “phase down” the use of unabated coal power, deliver on long standing climate finance pledges for developing, and continue negotiations on the proposed introduction of mechanisms to provide funding to help nations cope with climate-related loss and damage .
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a raft of leading industrial development, including the US, UK, and EU, have announced beefed up energy security strategies that aim to accelerate clean energy infrastructure development. Meanwhile, the election of a new government in Australia has also raised the prospect that the country could submit a significantly strengthened NDC.
However, with less than six months to go to the start of COP26, few countries are yet to confirm they will submit updated NDCs, while pledges to phase down coal power and remove fossil fuel subsidies have been banned by various moves by national governments to ramp up Domestic fossil fuel production in response to concerns over energy security sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the hosting of the next UN Climate Summit in Africa is expected to result in an increased focus on the long-running stand off between climate vulnerable and industrialized nations over loss and damage funding, with richer nations set to face ever more vocal accusations that they are failing to do enough to help poorer countries cope with escalating climate impacts.
Espinosa also used her speech to confirm she is to step down from here role at the UNFCCC at the end of her term in office after six years at the helm of the UN Climate Change secretariat. In an emotional address she insisted that progress had been made, despite continued increases in global emissions.
“Look at what we’ve accomplished in the last six years,” she said. “Look at what we’ve accomplished in the last 30. While we are still very much behind the climate curve, the world is in a better position because of the UNFCCC, because of the Kyoto Protocol, because of the Paris Agreement. Because of collaboration. Because of multilateralism. Because of you. But we can do better, we must.”
In related news, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week announced that its upcoming AR6 Synthesis report, which had been scheduled for release ahead of COP27, could be delayed until late 2022 or early 2023. The scientific body cited “operational reasons” for the prospective delay, confirming that any changes to its publication schedule would be announced in due course.
The AR6 Synthesis report is expected to integrate the group’s various reports issued since 2018, including the wave of three recent working group reports providing an overview of the latest science on climate projections, impacts, and mitigation.