Climate Change

Bonn Climate Conference begins with tense stand-off on ‘Loss and Damage’

Developing countries complained about inadequate focus on loss and damage and climate adaptation

By Avantika Goswami
Published: Monday 06 June 2022

NOTE: This article was updated on June 7, 2022 to incorporate certain changes in the text

The United Nations’ mid-year climate change conference commenced in Bonn, Germany, with a stand-off between developing and developed countries on the issue of loss and damage (L&D) June 6, 2022.

Developing countries complained that no commitments were being made to provide any kind of written inputs or have any concrete outcomes about L&D finance, an important issue for them.

L&D finance refers to money given to communities who are facing the brunt of the climate crisis today through displacement or destruction of their livelihoods — climate reparations, in other words.

It all started when a request from the G77+China bloc of countries was put forth to add two agenda items to the official conference agenda — one on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and one on the Glasgow Dialogue on L&D Finance.

“The objective of adding agenda items into the sessions is to try to get draft text so that it is not just a dialogue but rather something that countries can tangibly carry on towards CoP27,” Eddy Perez, international climate diplomacy manager at Climate Action Network Canada, told Down To Earth.

“An agenda item would get all countries to set expectations and draft text that could then be decided on by CoP27 in Egypt this November,” Perez added.

Developing countries wanted to ensure that climate adaption and L&D were given as much attention as climate mitigation through the conference. This was highlighted in comments made during the opening plenary.

The GGA was eventually added to the formal agenda, but L&D is yet to be formalised. This led to complaints from the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) group about the “unbalanced way” in which the summit was commencing

“There is space for discussion on some items but refusal for discussion on items which are priorities of developing countries,” Diego Pacheco, speaker for the LMDC group, said.

Developing countries, who are historically the smallest polluters when considering greenhouse gas emissions, have solely championed L&D as an issue.

Developed countries, on the other hand, have shied away from L&D for years, owing to the potential for endless litigation.

CoP26 had ended with the vague promise of a “dialogue” that developed countries would engage in to determine how to offer financial assistance for the climate damages they have wrought.

“On L&D, things are still moving. There are consultations happening. But the challenge is that it is a dialogue,” Perez said.

“It doesn’t commit countries to provide any kind of written inputs or have any concrete outcomes. That is what we are missing. The debate right now is — how can we get an agenda item on L&D?

“Would it be better to have an agenda item only at CoP27, as the Alliance of Small Island States has been requesting? Under the current process, there is no way to capture views, only to speak,” he said.

It is important that Parties do not get stuck in procedural issues and logistics, however, Perez added.

“What matters is finding a strategic way to move the adaptation and L&D debate forward in a way that we are capturing the views, that is political in nature and that it allows for an ambitious outcome by CoP27,” he said.

The Bonn summit, also known as the 56th session of the subsidiary bodies (SB 56), will stretch over the next two weeks. It is led by two technical committees — the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

It will take forward action items announced at CoP26 in Glasgow last November and advance some of the more technical and operational discussions in time for the 27th Conference of Parties (CoP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is scheduled to take place  in Sharm el-Shaikh, Egypt, this November.

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