Published on 20 November 2017


Financial hurdles strain COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn

Issues surrounding coal, and to a lesser extent small island states, were the focus of the COP 23 climate negotiations in Bonn (Germany). But hiding in the background, were concerns for the 100 billion dollars per year needed for climate change adaptation from now until 2020. Developed countries pledged to deliver these funds to aid developing nations, however, the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has negatively impacted these discussions.

The COP23 launched an initiative to protect people living in Small Island States from the impacts of climate change as a response to rising sea levels.

Bonn: a tepid step towards fulfilling Paris Agreement guidelines

The COP 23 session in Bonn closed early morning on Saturday 18 November. No clear statement has been released regarding a common agenda for further negotiations. This is no surprise for Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety: « It has always been clear that we would not sign the agreement in Bonn as it was laid out in Paris. Bonn is an important step in outlining the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement ».

In concrete terms, all parties – the American delegation included – have discussed a plan to ensure that by 2020, with an intermediary step taking place end of 2018, all will agree on how they report climate actions and emissions reduction measures. This will be the objective of the «Talanoa Dialogue », a concept proposed by the Fijian COP presidency, with multilateral exchanges taking place throughout 2018.

Financial commitments stall in the face of wavering leadership

David Levai, Director of Climate Programme at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) insists « this is not going to be a small matter, because a lot more progress was expected » in Bonn. Levai notes the « severe lack in leadership » after Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement. And the negotiators agree. The 100-billion-dollar question still poses a problem for parties involved: funding from developed countries is needed to help developing nations meet adaptation requirements in the face of climate change.

« Hurricanes have ravaged the Caribbean, storms and mass flooding have destroyed thousands of homes and schools in South Asia and drought has affected millions of people in East Africa. Yet, with very few exceptions, developed countries have come to Bonn empty handed », regrets Armelle Lecomte, specialist in climate issues for the NGO Oxfam.

In this domain, as with many others, the American position has been a challenge, as Washington has once again confirmed its exit from the Paris Agreement. This means that the country will not transfer the funds promised by Barack Obama, most notably the two billion dollars designated for the United Nations Green Climate Fund. This is a very negative sign for the other contributors. « The American position has an influence on other developed countries and that has consequences on the position of major developing countries. Everyone is watching the actions of others », explains Seyni Nafo, Chairman of the African Climate Negotiators Group.

France to advance finance talks with « One Planet Summit »

It’s a subject that will have to be put back on the table for COP 24, which will take place December 2018 in Katowice, Poland. This is so long as key leaders invited to Paris on 12 December for the One Planet Summit, a climate summit devoted to green finance, decide to maintain their donation promises. At least that’s what Celia Gautier, climate-energy officer at the Nicolas Hulot Foundation for Nature and Mankind, is hoping for.

From the summit’s standpoint, she hopes that « France will agree to go from discussion to concrete action, and demonstrate how it will help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. Details have already been announced at COP 21 but they are insufficient. We must double the assistance provided by France to developing countries so that we can respond to the impacts of climate change. »

Armelle Lecomte agrees: « The international climate summit, under Emmanuel Macron’s initiative, is a ‘catch up session’ for developed countries in order to unveil new financial engagements, and it begins with France ».

Ludovic Dupin with AFP, @LudovicDupin

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