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By YazidJune 28, 2024In Climate Post

Tick Tock: Can We Deliver Climate Action at COP29: Reflection and Analysis from SBI60

June 1st, 13:43 PM, I arrived in Bonn, Germany – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) secretariat – with high anticipation for the SB60 meeting and a bit of nervousness. Anticipation because it was my first SBs, and nervousness because I was speaking at a high-level event on linkages between technology mechanisms and financial mechanisms.

I believe (or at least guess) you are familiar with the UNFCCC’s COP meetings. The most recent (COP28) was hosted by the UAE government in Dubai, you can read more here. By November 11, 2024, the government of Azerbaijan will host the next (COP29) in Baku. Apart from the yearly COPs meetings, there are also the half-year SB meetings – not as popular nor as ceremonial. This year (June 3 – 13), the 60th Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SB60) held again in Bonn. Many of the negotiated topics from COP28 were key agendas during the SB60 and would fit into COP29. I was present.

I was one of 15 changemakers of the Climate Diplomacy Action Programme (CPAD), a program commissioned by the German Foreign Office and Implemented by GIZ. For 10 days, in the company of approximately 6,000 other participants from across the world; through formal and informal meetings, I interacted and learnt from party delegates, leaders from private sector businesses and multilateral organizations, observers, representatives of Indigenous communities, youth groups, NGOs, and INGOs.

“We cannot afford to reach Baku with too much work still to do. Please, make every hour here count.” This was Simon Stiel, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary’s remarks at the opening ceremony of SB60. After ten days of intensive negotiations and meetings, do parties still have “too much” work awaiting us at Baku (COP29)? For me, I would say SB60 concluded with a mixed bag of progress and challenges, these are some of my reflections. I hope you learn something useful.

On Global Stocktake:

The need for stronger, “1.5°C aligned” NDCs by early 2025 is clear, yet the lack of observed ambition from many countries is deeply concerning.  The window for achieving this critical target is rapidly closing.

The discussions during the GST Annual Dialogues were, frankly, disappointing.  While some countries cited national political limitations, others linked their lack of ambition directly to the issue of climate finance – they need those resources to implement truly impactful goals. This underscores the importance of the “Mission 1.5°C” initiative, but it needs clearer guidance.  The Troika leading this mission has its work cut out for them –  defining what “1.5°C aligned” means in practical terms for translating the Global Stocktake findings into concrete NDC plans is crucial. Also, the blocked negotiations on the Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) were a frustrating roadblock. Detaching the MWP entirely from the Global Stocktake and NDCs seems counterproductive.  Finding a way to unblock these talks and allow for progress on concrete energy transition strategies is essential.

On Adaptation (this is the track I have been closely following): National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Global Goals on Adaptation (GGA) 

Only 58 of 142 developing countries have submitted their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) with UNFCCC on the necks of the others to submit theirs. While the key emphasis was on submission, we left Bonn with a hollow victory and the negotiations on measuring global adaptation efforts resulted in a compromised text. While in the negotiation room, I witnessed developing countries lamenting the lack of strong language on means of implementation. The tactic played by developed nations extended to watering down references to core principles of the convention, essentially those acknowledging their responsibility to provide finance due to the climate crisis they’ve driven. This blatant omission stings especially when the need for increased adaptation funding is undeniable, with the very survival of humanity and countless ecosystems hanging in the balance. 

On Finance for Adaptation:

Discussions on long-term climate finance for adaptation saw progress, particularly regarding the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance. However, disappointment was voiced by developing countries concerning the need for more specific details outlining the path towards achieving the goal. Additionally, the absence of finalized, well-defined options and a comprehensive framework for a draft text was lamented. This means a work deficit ahead of COP29 to develop draft text for negotiation. Also, the Warsaw Mechanism for Loss and Damage received renewed attention, with discussions on establishing a financial facility to address the already occurring impacts of climate change on vulnerable countries. Baby steps are still being taken on this issue that needs urgent action. Developing countries voiced out the need to ensure Loss and Damage is a sub-goal under the NCQG and the need for a grant-based mechanism for Loss and Damage Finance.

On Linkage Between Technology Mechanism and Financial Mechanism. 

At SB60, a key focus was on strengthening the connection between the Technology Mechanism and the Finance Mechanism. This is crucial because developing countries need both technological solutions and financial resources to effectively adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts. Parties explored ways to translate the outcomes of technology needs assessments (TNAs) into “bankable projects” that can attract funding. These “plug and play” solutions would be readily deployable by developing countries. Shifting from a project-by-project approach, the discussions considered allowing National Designated Authorities to implement multi-year programs for technology implementation. This would provide greater stability and focus. The discussions also acknowledged the need for adequate funding to support both TNA recommendations and technical assistance provided by the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). While representing YOUNGO at the Workshop, I spoke on the existing data gap, implementation, and funding gap as well as the role of young people in supporting the implementation of the TNAs outcome across their countries which was reflected in the draft text. 

On Agriculture and Food Security

Nigeria, like many other developing countries, continues to grapple with food security challenges. High post-harvest loss, poor distribution, and production and conflict are just a few of the many factors causing food insecurity. After a year and a half of waiting, SB60 finally delivered a roadmap for discussions on agriculture and food security under the UNFCCC. This is a positive step, outlining workshops and an online portal to delve deeper into this crucial issue. The focus on “systemic and holistic approaches” and identifying needs for implementation sounds promising. However, attending SB60 left me with a lingering concern. While the roadmap exists, it feels incomplete without a stronger emphasis on solutions that empower small-scale farmers on the ground. We need to see agroecology and accessible public finance receive more attention. After all, climate action that doesn’t center on the most vulnerable, like small-scale producers, won’t truly achieve food security for all. 

Was “too much” work left for Baku? Well, Simon Stiell has the best answer to this, “we took a detour on the road to Baku. Too many issues were left unresolved. Too many items are still on the table” and “But we have left ourselves with a vast amount to do between now and the end of the COP” mentioned in his closing remark. 

Moving forward with “too much” work to do ahead of and at COP29, What can be done? 

On NCQG: COP29 must ensure that the priority of developing countries is considered which means more commitment in ‘billions’ not millions backed by actional steps regarding climate finance by developed countries, not in loans but grants to enable developing countries to adapt to the impact of climate change already felt their communities and meet their climate ambition. 

On GST and NDCs: Beyond immediate NDC development, ensuring a just and equitable follow-up to the Global Stocktake itself is paramount. Discussions at SB60 highlighted the ongoing struggle for countries to find a unified vision on how to move forward with the GST’s outcomes. Inclusivity needs to be a cornerstone moving forward, especially as countries embark on the next GST cycle.

On Adaptation: There has never been a time in the history of humanity where adaptation finance is critical and evident. COP29 must deviate from saying countries should finance their adaptation using their national resources –when most of these developing countries spend half or more of their internal resources on paying debt. COP29 must understand that while the private sector is integral to adaptation, there must not be over-dependence on finance from this sector to finance countries’ adaptation efforts as investors will not invest in something with no risk insurance and a long-term return on investment. Means of implementation must be at the center of every discussion and developed countries must take responsibility.

On Linkages Between FM and TM: COP29 must focus on fleshing out the draft text and ensuring increased linkage between mechanisms and developing and disseminating climate technologies to those countries most in need of them, with adequate finance flows needed to fund those activities.

On Agriculture and Food Security: Starting at COP29, countries need to translate this roadmap into action. Integrating resilient and equitable food systems into national climate plans is crucial.  But the most important step?  Unlocking more climate finance for transformative food systems built on agroecology principles.  This is how we ensure food security for all while tackling climate change.

There you have it my reflections from Bonn and I hope it is clear why, as I earlier described, it concluded with a mixed bag of progress and challenges.

Useful links and relevant sources:

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