Assessment of the Climate Conference in Bonn The shadow of war looms over the climate goals

Bonn · After the conclusion of the climate conference in Bonn, the reviews are mixed. The organizers of the conference see progress while the environmental protection organizations criticize shortcomings. The conference continues in Egypt in November.

  In front of the WCCB: Workers look after the entrance to the climate conference in Bonn, which ended on Thursday.

In front of the WCCB: Workers look after the entrance to the climate conference in Bonn, which ended on Thursday.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

Even before global warming could be felt this weekend in Bonn, where temperatures were expected to be above 30 degrees Celsius, the 4,000 or so participants at the UN Climate Change Conference packed their bags on Thursday after two weeks of deliberations at the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB). At the end of the two weeks, the organizers noted that there was still a lot to be done, but that overall "progress had been made on important technical issues" as a result of "intensive work". But they had to take a verbal beating from various international environmental organizations in light of the final outcome.

Nothing was actually decided during the two weeks on the Rhine. But this was not the task of the regular "interim conference" at which the so-called subsidiary bodies of the Framework Convention on Climate Change meet annually in Bonn. Their task is rather to prepare the decisions of the next "real" climate conference, the so-called Conference of the Parties. It will take place as "COP 27" in November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Among the topics discussed in Bonn were the development of a global inventory and future financing in the international framework.

Global assessment shows the gaps

The United Nations wants the meeting in Bonn to be seen as a follow-up to last year's “COP 26” in Glasgow, where a package to implement the Paris climate agreement signed in 2015 was agreed upon. Meetings like the one in Bonn are an essential part of the negotiations, Patricia Espinosa, outgoing head of the UN Climate Secretariat, was quoted as saying in a press release on Corpus Christi Thursday. The United Nations cited "structural adaptations to the unavoidable consequences of climate change, which include increasingly frequent and intense heat waves, floods and storms," as well as "loss and damage," irreversible losses such as crop failures caused by natural disasters, as key unresolved issues. The global assessment has "highlighted gaps in climate action, but also the opportunities," said Marianne Karlsen, the section chief responsible for implementation.

Immediately after the end of the Bonn conference, international environmental protection organizations were far less satisfied than those who were in charge of the meetings. Although the marine and climate change dialogue launched in Bonn was a "milestone," the World Wildlife Found (WWF) said, it criticized the "huge gap between words and deeds”: It said that now the G7 countries, chaired by Germany, must jointly decide on a coal phase-out for 2030 and take concrete steps to reduce fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. The Climate Action Network (CAN), which claims to have 1,500 non-governmental organizations from 130 countries as its members, was even harsher in its assessment of the Bonn conference, saying that it had "once again shown how far removed the interests of the negotiators are from the reality of people suffering from climate change," without being more specific. The work program formed in Glasgow to raise climate targets also reportedly made no progress or consensus in Bonn.

The German government acknowledged that the results of the Bonn conference had disappointed many. "I can understand the disappointment and frustration of many people who had hoped for more - we as the German government also wanted more," said Jennifer Morgan, State Secretary and Special Representative for International Climate Policy at the German Foreign Office. "There is still a lot of work ahead of us, and we will tackle it vigorously.”

Concerns about multilateral cooperation

The bottom line is that the special feature of the two weeks of deliberations in Bonn is that this was the first climate conference since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. According to participants, geopolitical developments also raised numerous questions and concerns at the WCCB: for example, fears that the war could push global warming into the background or even into oblivion, or could put a strain on multilateral cooperation. As is well known, countries such as Germany are currently continuing to rely on coal-fired power plants for the time being in order to cut back on gas-fired power generation. This is intended to keep the scarcer gas available primarily for industry. Energy economist Mia Moiso of the Berlin-based New Climate Institute in Bonn warned that the "gold rush in the natural gas sector" triggered elsewhere by the Ukraine war, will bring the world another decade of high CO2 emissions - and jeopardize the 1.5-degree target of the Paris climate agreement.

Orig. text: Rüdiger Franz

Translation: ck

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