Rich Countries double down on obstruction in Bonn: Climate talks face sandstorm of uncertainty in Dubai

15 June 2023

Bonn, Germany

As the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany comes to a close, it was not surprising to see US, backed by the EU, UK and other global North governments, historically responsible for causing today’s climate crisis, continue their dirty tricks to divert discussion away from their failure to deliver on their legal obligations under UNFCCC. The so-called ¨Developed¨countries blocked progress at every step during the climate talk to get away from their responsibility to provide finance and technology to developing countries, who are the first and worst hit by climate catastrophes. Bonn essentially became the staging ground for the Great Escape II.

Rich nations exhausted the capacity of the climate talks by trying to impose a discussion on mitigation without addressing means of implementation. These same countries have not only failed to meet their own mitigation targets, but are locking the world in a fossil fuel dependency. The US alone is planning to expand fossil fuel production by over 300% despite being historically responsible for  23% of emissions from 1859 to 2019 representing only 4% of the world’s population. As we head to Dubai for COP28 in November, there is growing uncertainty on the climate talks to deliver on the real solutions, real finance, real actions on reducing global emissions that can help the world set on the path of just transition.

Representatives of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice share their reactions on the UN Climate Conference at Bonn, outcome of the climate negotiations as well as the key demands that the climate justice movement will be raising at COP28.

Watch DCJ Press Conference here and here

Quotes in English

Titi Soentoro, Aksi! And Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

It is disheartened to witness the hypocrisy here in Bonn. The developing countries’ governments are pressured to increase their emission reduction target ambitions, while the developed countries still maintain their fossil-fuel consumptions through coal trading and import from the developing countries. 

It is also disheartening to see that millions of people are suffering from climate change disasters like sea-level rise, typhoons, floods, that trigger forced displacement, loss of livelihoods, and impoverishment. On the other hand we witness the objections of the developed countries to their historical responsibilities. We also witness that the public climate finance for mitigation mostly go for massive mega-projects in the developing countries that trigger land and resource grabbing.

As long as the climate negotiations are market and profit based, the needs and interests of climate affected communities will never be a priority.

Marcos Nordgren Ballivian, PBFCC-Bolivia

Science forecasts that the first critical limit set in the Paris Agreement, with a maximum temperature increase of 1.5 Celsius C, will likely be exceeded in the next few years, possibly during the upcoming El Niño cycle warm phase 2023-2024. This development mean that the world is most certainly heading towards failure in meeting the Paris Agreement and on the brink of a global climate catastrophe.  Everything is at risk. However, instead of a collective response from the international community based on solidarity and the acknowledgement of historical responsibilities and capabilities of rich economies, the countries convened in Bonn over the past two weeks, primarily those from developed nations, seem to have opted to block progress as much as possible without getting the blame and see how bad things are really going to get the coming years as to decide how they best can keep on taking advantage of their economic and political advantages.They fail to recognize that we must either confront the necessary and substantial climate justice transitions together, or “accept” a world where even the most fundamental human needs and rights cannot be sustained, be it for the privileged or the underprivileged sooner or later. It is imperative that we raise our voices louder for the common people in Europe, the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and all across the developed world to hear: The Crisis is today and their governments are failing to defend their rights and the future of humanity.

Susann Scherbarth, Friends of the Earth Germany, Germany

“The path towards the global climate conference in Dubai this November remains uncharted. Instead of taking responsibility for curbing the climate crisis and providing trillions to support the poor and vulnerable, wealthy nations such as the United States and the European Union have pointed fingers at poorer nations for impeding progress. As a result, the upcoming climate negotiations in Dubai find themselves engulfed in a big sandstorm of uncertainty.

But it’s crystal clear what needs to come out of the world climate conference in November: a fast, fair and funded phase out of all fossil fuels and substantial financial commitments in trillions from wealthy nations. These funds are crucial to empower and support the poor and vulnerable in effectively tackling the climate crisis in a way that leaves no one behind. Wealthy nations like Germany need to end their shopping sprees around the world, where they fill their bags with gas and colonial patterns.”

Andrea Echeverri. Global Forest Coalition

We cannot achieve a just transition without addressing the interconnections between the energy and food systems. Our current industrial food system is heavily reliant on fossil fuels, from the production of synthetic fertilizers to the transportation of food across long distances. This system is not only unsustainable but also unjust, as it perpetuates inequalities and harms vulnerable communities, women and ecosystems. We must divest from the industries that perpetuate environmental and social injustices, including hunger, land grabbing, and gender based violence. We must demand that governments, development Banks, UN agencies take bold action to address the climate crisis and prioritize the needs of communities over corporate profits. That is divesting in large feed crops, in factory farming in fossils and investing in community energies and agroecology. 

Eduardo Giesen, Regional Coordinator, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice

“The SB58 conference in Bonn has confirmed the farce that climate negotiations represent, captured by the power of corporations and rich countries.

We return to our countries convinced of the urgency of working and fighting from the territories against extractivism and false solutions, as well as denouncing the complicity of the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean, even those who describe themselves as progressive and environmentalists.”

Meena Raman, Third World Network

The climate talks at Bonn this year have been a Great Escape. As the negotiations progressed, we saw developed countries trying to delete references to the convention, to equity, to common but differentiated responsibility just to escape from their responsibility for the historical emissions that have led to the current climate crisis. It has been an absolute horror show. And if you saw what’s happening here it is the preparation for the big wrestling and boxing match during COP28 or what I call the Dubai Marathon. Developed countries have not been negotiating in good faith, which is actually wrecking the climate regime, the convention and the Paris Agreement. They are always shifting the goalposts, always breaking promises and all of this is geared towards rich countries to bring in green colonialism that will allow them to keep control ove the resources of the developing countries.

Romain Ioualalen, Oil Change International, France

“The Bonn climate conference was a missed opportunity. Over the past two weeks, climate negotiators bickered over arcane procedural points instead of charting a clear path towards a decision to phase out fossil fuels at COP28 and unlock a global renewable energy revolution. Governments should be ashamed of their delaying tactics.

“To fulfill the promise countries made in Paris in 2015, they must halt fossil fuel expansion, end public finance for fossil fuels, and agree to a fair, fast, and full transition away from end oil, gas, and coal and towards renewables. Thankfully, momentum is growing inside and outside the negotiations: over 70 countries have called for a COP28 decision on fossil fuel phase out in Bonn, and a growing list of countries and institutions have followed through on their COP26 promise to end international public finance for fossil fuels. Countries like Colombia and the members of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance are doing the hard work of implementing measures to keep oil and gas in the ground.

“The contrast between this leadership and the actions of the world’s biggest historic polluter, the United States could not be more striking. Under Biden’s leadership, the U.S. has failed in its responsibility to lead a global and just transition away from fossil fuels and avert further climate disaster and has instead actively promoted fossil fuel expansion including with public money. Fossil fuel companies, who are doing everything in their power to extract the last ounces of profits from its dangerous activities.

As COP28 approaches, it is crucial that we double down on efforts to build a clean, renewable energy future for all, free of fossil fuels.”

Rachel Rose Jackson, Director of Climate Research and Policy, Corporate Accountability

Yet again, these climate talks failed to deliver the urgent action we need to reduce emissions to Real Zero and scale up real, people-centered solutions. And we know why– as long as Big Polluters are allowed to roam the halls of the UNFCCC and undermine the global response to climate change, climate action will not prioritize people and the planet over profits. While civil society–including youth, women and gender groups, climate and climate justice groups, and trade unions– united to secure a long overdue victory with the first ever requirements for UNFCCC participants to have to declare their affiliation before participating, we have a long way to travel in a very short time to ensure the rules of climate action are no longer written by Big Polluters. We will not back down until we finally Kick Big Polluters Out and reset the system so it works for people, not polluters! 

Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy coordinator, Friends of the Earth International

It’s of grave concern that while rich countries have blocked discussions on climate finance and equity at every turn during these talks, carbon markets are quietly progressing. Big polluters must be delighted. There are no possible rules that can actually make the global carbon market work. Carbon markets are a distraction from real climate action and cause grave harm – preventing real emissions reductions and climate finance, opening the door to dangerous new technologies like geoengineering, and threatening communities in the global South with land grabs and human rights violations,” says Sara Shaw, climate justice & energy coordinator. 

Alex Rafalowicz, Executive Director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative

We are in the midst of a climate crisis happening here and now. Some governments are taking this seriously like Fiji which publicly called for a fossil fuel treaty. The COP presidency, UAE, notably shifted and said that the phase down of fossil fuels is inevitable. So the question for these negotiations is how we are going to make that transition happen faster and fairer. The signs coming out of Bonn are concerning. During the climate talks, the United States and other countries that are some of the biggest producers of fossil fuels actively blocked proposals for full consideration of the just transition issue. If we can’t talk about just transition and how we work together, we are not going to accelerate that transition to meet the deadline that we have. For that reason people across the world have declared that they are going to fight back and fight for the end of fossil fuels, fast, fair and forever.

Victor Menotti, Oakland Institute / Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice

Signaling a showdown to come at COP28 in Dubai, developed countries doubled-down on their demands that developing countries mitigate more while shamelessly diverting discussion away from financing required under the UN climate convention. As always, they faithfully followed the lead of the largest historic polluter, the US. While Washington DC choked on smoke from Canadian wildfires and focused on the trial of its previous president, the Biden team’s Trump-like tactics defined Bonn’s political dynamics across all negotiating topics. It was a master course in gaslighting by insisting all countries align their financial flows with the 1.5C temperature goal even though Biden has been encouraging endless supplies of new fossil fuel production from investors by rolling back bedrock environmental laws to fastrack new projects. 

But Bonn also launched escalated efforts by climate campaigners to fight back against industry’s war on people and the planet, with the next few months to define what goes down in Dubai.

Elodie Guillon, World Animal Protection, UK

It is disheartening to witness the slow progress in taking action within the agricultural negotiation stream during SB58, despite the overwhelming evidence that immediate measures are necessary. 

The IPCC warns that even without fossil fuel emissions, emissions from our food systems alone could lead to a devastating global temperature increase. Destructive agribusiness practices contribute to emissions, environmental damage, and harm smallholders and indigenous communities. Addressing these injustices and implementing agroecology and dietary shifts, particularly plant-based proteins, are urgent and real solutions. Let’s harness the lessons learned from the COVID-19 emergency in acting collectively, swiftly, and decisively. It’s time for action.

Gaya, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung

The bottom line with climate finance is: if it isn’t funded, it won’t get done. If we don’t secure enough climate finance we cannot limit the impact of the climate crisis by reducing emissions or “mitigation”. We cannot protect billions of people from its worst impacts by assuring appropriate “adaptation”. We cannot help people and whole countries recover from its unavoidable damage by compensating them for “loss and damage” suffered.

Currently the discussions under the UNFCCC reveal that rich countries want to evade their responsibility to provide the finance needed. We have seen a push to overburden the existing humanitarian system with the task of addressing Loss and Damage. A reluctance to discuss finance in connection with the Mitigation Work Programme. And we have seen the eagerness of developed countries to unload the responsibility of climate finance onto multilateral development banks – risking piling more debt onto countries already overburdened by unfair debt burdens. These distractions from the core need to generate new, additional, predictable and accessible climate finance must be resisted on the road to CoP28.

We always hear that we need “bold” solutions to the climate crisis. But what does this mean? Aside from having the political will to urgently deliver their promises and obligations as enshrined in the Paris Agreement, it is time for global north countries to use their economic power to come up with bold solutions to generate climate finance now. It means we must be bold in reforming the financial system towards cancelling debt and creating fairer institutions and rules in global lending. We must be bold in the global taxation system and create huge new streams of climate revenue by getting corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair shares. We could re-divert money lost to tax loopholes and havens, and fossil fuel subsidies. We need to make critical climate technology available for free to developing countries so the green transition and adaptation are just and don’t constitute yet another financial burden to countries.

Alexia, Start:Empowerment, U.S 

I live in Texas but my family is in the global south  and I know all too well how rich governments continue to profit off the fossil fuel industry while Black and Brown communities both within the global north and in the global south die. We need the global north to commit to funding loss and damage and an equitable fossil fuel phase out. We can’t continue to have empty summits and throw away our future while those on the frontlines die. 

Quotes in other languages

Camila Romero, Colectivo Viento Sur, Chile

Desde el llamado Sur Global, enfrentamos diariamente los efectos devastadores del cambio climático y del modelo económico extractivista que ha colonizado nuestros territorios. Es imperativo que los responsables históricamente de las mayores emisiones e impactos asuman su responsabilidad y no solamente paguen con recursos financieros y tecnológico a las regiones más vulnerables, si no que se haga justicia, y caminemos hacia una transformación de los sistemas de vida donde se priorice las necesidades de quienes habitamos los territorios por sobre el lucro de las grandes corporaciones.

Susann Scherbarth, Friends of the Earth Germany, Germany

“Die bevorstehenden Klimaverhandlungen in Dubai stecken in einem gewaltigen Sandsturm der Unsicherheit. Statt Verantwortung für die Klimakrise zu übernehmen und Trillionen zur Unterstützung der Armen und Schutzbedürftigen bereitzustellen, schieben wohlhabende Nationen wie die USA und die EU den ärmeren Ländern die Schuld zu. Der Weg bis nach Dubai bleibt mit diesen enttäuschenden Ergebnissen ungewiss.
„Es ist glasklar, was aus der Weltklimakonferenz im November hervorgehen muss: ein schneller, fairer und finanziell abgesicherter Ausstieg aus fossilen Brennstoffen sowie bedeutende finanzielle Zusagen in Trillionen von wohlhabenden Nationen. Diese Mittel sind entscheidend, um die Armen wirksam in der Bewältigung der Klimakrise zu unterstützen und niemanden zurückzulassen.
“Wohlhabende Nationen wie Deutschland müssen ihre weltweiten Shopping-Touren beenden, bei denen sie ihre Taschen mit Gas und kolonialen Mustern füllen.”

Karola Knuth, Young Friends of the Earth Germany, Germany

“Die Staaten und vor allem die reichen, historisch verantwortlichen Länder, spielen hier mit der Zukunft der Welt, weil sie sich wegen Machtspielchen nicht auf grundlegende Dinge wie eine Tagesordnung einigen können. Zukünftig wollen wir deshalb eine bessere Partizipation der Zivilgesellschaft und vor allem der Jugend, indigener Gruppen, local communities und FINTA* sehen!” (FINTA* ist eine Abkürzung und steht für Frauen, Inter, Nicht-binäre, Trans und Agender Personen. Damit sollen alle geschlechtlichen Identitäten zusammengefasst werden, welche vom Patriarchat unterdrückt werden)
“Wir sehen wie sich der Globale Norden seiner historischen Verantwortung entziehen will und auf falsche Lösungen pocht, wie Geoengineering und Marktmechanismen. Aber das einzige, was uns hilft ist ein schneller, solidarischer Ausstieg aus fossilen Energien.”

Eduardo Giesen, Coordinador Regional de la Campaña Global para Exigir Justicia Climática

” La conferencia del SB58 en Bonn ha confirmado la farsa que representan las negociaciones climáticas, capturadas por el poder de las corporaciones y los países ricos. 

Volvemos a nuestros paises convencidos de la urgencia de trabajar y luchar desde los territorios en contra del extractivismo y las falsas soluciones, así como denunciar la complicidad de los gobiernos de América Latina y el Caribe, aun aquellos que se califican de progresistas y ecologistas.”

Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice is a network of over 200 networks and organizations working globally, regionally, and locally on climate justice. Collectively we represent millions of climate activists on the ground.

Our members are available for comments and interviews in different languages. Please contact Rachitaa at [email protected] (+918447445543) to reach out to our members.