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Rough Road to COP29: Rich Countries Pushing Global South Off the Tracks

13 June, 2023

Bonn, Germany

2023 was the hottest year on record with global temperatures close to 1.5 degrees. As the 60th Subsidiary Bodies meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: SBSTA and SBI come to a close, the global community faces stark realities about the ongoing climate crisis and the persistent inaction of developed countries. Recent UNFCCC reports reveal that rich nations, historically responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, have only met a quarter of the emission cuts urged by scientists. These same countries are pushing developing nations for ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while putting on a concerted effort to not commit or deliver on their own climate finance obligations urgently needed by the developing countries.

Adding to the injustice, rich countries continue to advocate for false solutions like nature-based solutions, geoengineering, carbon capture and storage, and carbon markets. These tactics allow them and their corporations to evade genuine emission reductions and delay the phase-out of fossil fuels, perpetuating the exploitation of the Global South communities at the frontline of this crisis. Rich countries need to step up and pay up for their responsibility by delivering on an ambitious New Common Quantified Goal that ensures new, additional, predictable and non-debt creating grant based public finance that goes towards real solutions and not towards dangerous distractions. The Global South is owed reparations in trillions and not billions and we need them to go towards solutions developed by peoples who are at the frontlines and suffer the disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis.

As we head towards COP29, it is imperative to hold these nations accountable and demand real, equitable climate action.

Quotes and Reactions from DCJ Members

Meena Raman, Third World Network

“If the developed world is serious about ambition in mitigation, they must in their forthcoming communication of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) indicate that they will phase out from the use of fossil fuels urgently and will provide the scale of finance needed for developing countries to enable their just and equitable energy transition. The rich world must also indicate the financial resources they will provide for the new collective quantified goal on finance which has to be agreed to in Baku by the end of this year, to enable developing countries to address their mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage needs. Thus far, developed countries have refused to indicate any quantum of finance. They have money for bombs and war but have no money for paying up their climate debt. They must Step Up, Pay Up and meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement. They have the money but not the political will and this must change, if we are serious about enabling a liveable planet for all. “

Mariana Pinzón, CENSAT Agua Viva/Friends of the Earth Colombia

“One more round of climate negotiations ends and, once again, profound decisions are postponed for a new cycle. The discussions do not respond to the urgency of a crisis that is growing exponentially, but to the rhythm of large fossil fuel corporations, linked in turn to the world financial system, and to the wealth of the countries of the Global North. Those most affected, the communities of the Global South, are not heard. The recognition of an ecological debt owed by the Global North to the Global South does not appear in the discussions, let alone the obligation to reduce their GHG emissions to real zero not “net” zero. Neo-extractivist and debt-linked finance promise to maintain the status quo. Meanwhile, more people are being displaced by the climate crisis as right-wing governments gain space and promise to put up their walls.”

ASSEM Ekue, Les Amis de la Terre-Togo

“The false climate solutions we’re hearing about at the Bonn climate talks, such as carbon offsetting, carbon trading schemes and geo-engineering, are nothing more than technological or commercial schemes promoted by fossil fuel companies and their political allies. Their consequences include deforestation, land grabbing and violations of the rights of local communities in Africa. They are undoubtedly a danger to communities and ecosystems.”

Eduardo Giesen, DCJ Regional Coordinator, Latin America and the Caribbean 

“Once again in Bonn, climate negotiations continue to move away from the systemic change that requires solving the climate crisis with justice, collaboration, peace and care for nature. On the contrary, the logic of arrogance, war, commodification and corporate power, expressed in north-south relations and the imposition of false solutions within the framework of negotiations, continue to prevail.

For organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is a new frustration that reinforces our effort to focus on producing systemic change from our own territories and communities.”

Dr Tamra Gilbertson, Indigenous Environmental Network

“Negotiators at the SBSTA 60 continued geopolitical colonial practices that uphold power regimes in the global North putting Indigenous Peoples, women and local communities’ lives at risk. With the UN claiming lack of funds, close to a third of the budget is set aside to build and continue carbon markets in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and to continue the clean development mechanism running in a limbo status. The UNFCCC processes undermine efforts to stop the serious threat of climate change and its underpinning processes, which will certainly be apparent in Baku in November. We do not have time to continue down the path of colonial-development fossil fuel power regimes heightened by the UN; it is time to end this violence.”

Asad Rehman, Executive Director, War on Want:

“Transition is now inevitable, the question is what kind of transition? The answer from rich countries in Bonn is that the goal is an unjust and inequitable transition condemning the majority of the world to increased climate violence, keeping them trapped in unequal societies. Rich countries need to stop financing bombs and bullets and instead invest in the life-saving systems needed by those on the frontlines.

Global North countries appear determined to bully the Global South while billions around the world desperately need concrete international action, including sufficient additional non-debt creating finance and technology transfers. This must be enabled by securing trade justice, implementing a fairer global taxation system, and redirecting damaging subsidies.”

Souparna Lahiri, Global Forest Coalition

“With 6 years to go for 2030 and what looks like a pretty ambitious but scientifically deduced benchmark of 1.5, the UNFCCC has lost the plot. We are facing a climate chaos and not a climate crisis anymore! Where the markets dictate, the dirty polluters preach and the rich west wants to come out clean of its historical responsibility of ravaging our planet,  our mother earth. We have had enough of these false promises and false solutions. It’s time to reclaim our land, our forests, and justice for Indigenous Peoples, women and local communities who are victims of colonialism, capitalism and climate colonialism. That’s our pathway to climate justice, real solutions and real zero.”

Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International 

“Developing countries need trillions in new public finance for adaptation, loss and damage and for a just transition away from fossil fuels. But developed countries are not even offering crumbs from the table and are blocking all progress. They want developing countries to accept loans which will further fuel debt, and are pushing already discredited carbon market finance schemes which causes grave harm in the Global South. This is a disaster.”

Rachel Rose Jackson, Corporate Accountability

“The Bonn climate talks produced wanting and watered down outcomes totally out of touch with reality.  Millions of lives are already being lost and impacted as a result of the climate crisis, yet urgency and fairness is totally lacking in this process. What is not lacking is the chokehold the fossil fuel industry and other Big Polluters have over this process, and there is no shortage of bullying by Global North governments evading their fair share. Until we end the ability of Big Polluters to write the rules of climate action, climate talks will continue to condemn rather than save lives.”

Rachitaa Gupta, Global Coordinator, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice

“We saw deepening distrust at the climate talks in Bonn as rich countries continued to block progress and refused to step up and own up to their historical responsibilities for the ongoing climate crisis. We call out the misplaced priorities of the rich countries as they mobilise more money for the ongoing genocide in Palestine than for climate action.These same actors are perpetuating both the climate crisis and the systemic violence happening around the world.

As the Global South continues to reels from the climate crisis induced devastation, it is time for rich countries to reckon with their history and pay up the climate debt owed to the Global South. We need reparations in trillions not billions and we need them now to go towards real solutions – those developed by peoples who are at the frontlines and suffer the disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis”

Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins, War on Want on behalf of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice Just Transition Working Group

“We leave Bonn with little concrete progress on the Just Transition Work Programme. Yet we need rapid, just and equitable transitions essential to transforming our economies and societies in the face of climate breakdown and rampant global inequalities. Rich countries’ shenanigans included refusing to honour the original decision which stipulated that ‘international cooperation’ would enable just transitions (3/CMA.5). They would prefer the JTWP to be a talking shop, and refuse to support practical measures such as finance or technology transfer. We will continue to build grassroots power in our communities to fight for real change, and push for more tangible outcomes at COP29.”

Laurie van der Burg, Oil Change International:

“While lives are being lost in unbearable heat waves in Sudan, last year’s breakthrough agreement to transition away from fossil fuels was barely mentioned in these negotiations. The rich countries most responsible for this crisis must pay up for a fair fossil fuel phase-out and climate damages, without worsening unjust debts. We know they have more than enough money. It’s just going to the wrong things. 

“G7 leaders gathering in Italy today must face their responsibility. Instead of siding with fossil fuel interests, they need to deliver a fair fossil fuel phase-out, end fossil fuel handouts, and put a strong climate finance offer on the table. This is essential to build a fair and renewable future for all.”

Victor Menotti, Interim US Coordinator, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice

“DCJ sees a ROUGH road to Baku given the little progress and deepening distrust here in Bonn. BURYING data from Annex 1 reports showing that the richest nations cut only one-fifth of the emissions scientists urged does NOT reverse the deteriorating spirit of cooperation. Nor does publicly declaring success while actually delivering only $51B of the $100B promised, as their reports reveal. Biennial Transparency reports (BTRs) BEFORE Baku – as well as coming clean on why such poor performance – are paramount.

We DO see a HOPEFUL way ahead, but only if rich countries step up to their responsibilities by drafting NDCs that are EQUITABLY aligned with 1.5C. That means the biggest historical polluters must not do only the global AVERAGE but indeed much more…For example, by making PERMANENT the pause on new LNG export permits to end the world’s largest expansion of fossil fuels. Ending LNG‘s expansion would convince other countries that aligning with 1.5C is truly the North Star of policymaking for the biggest historical polluters.”

Harjeet Singh, Global Engagement Director for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative

“Climate finance at international talks has morphed into a battleground, a glaring testament to years of neglect and deception by developed nations. These countries have not only skirted their historical responsibilities but have also consistently deployed delay tactics, shifting burdens onto the shoulders of developing countries.

“We are on the brink of a catastrophic failure of climate talks, harming those least responsible for the crisis. It is time for wealthy nations to confront their obligations head-on, to integrate substantial climate finance commitments into their national budgets, and to impose punitive taxes on fossil fuel corporations and the super-rich — those who have profited most from the exploitation of our planet. 

“As we witness devastating impacts affecting people and nature, our patience has run thin. We need action to raise trillions of dollars, not excuses, to finance the urgent climate solutions needed to safeguard our future and restore justice to the communities bearing the brunt of climate change.”

Teresa Anderson, Global lead on climate justice, ActionAid International: 

“Across the board, negotiation tracks nearly ran off the rails with rich countries blocking the finance needed to make climate action happen. COP29 negotiations in Baku on the new climate finance goal will be a fork in the road for Planet Earth. Developing countries have been carrying the costs of the climate crisis, and their patience is now stretched beyond bearing. Right now, it’s the people who have done almost nothing to cause the climate crisis who are paying for it with their lost livelihoods, their hunger, their disappearing islands, and their lives.

“There’s no getting around the fact that if we want enough climate action to ensure a safe future for everyone, we’re going to have to find a way of covering the costs. The climate bill will be in multiple trillions of dollars, but the good news is that tax justice can be a game-changer for climate action. New ActionAid research shows that developed countries can raise USD 2 trillion for climate action by raising their tax-to-GDP ratios by four percentage points, with a range of progressive tax measures that address tax avoidance, and target the wealthiest corporations and individuals.”

Quotes in other languages


Dr Tamra Gilbertson, Indigenous Environmental Network

“Os negociadores no SBSTA 60 continuaram as práticas coloniais geopolíticas que sustentam regimes de poder no Norte global, colocando povos indígenas, mulheres e vidas de comunidades locais em risco. Com a ONU alegando falta de fundos, quase um terço do orçamento é reservado para construir e continuar os mercados de carbono no Artigo 6 do Acordo de Paris e para continuar o mecanismo de desenvolvimento limpo em execução em um status de limbo. Os processos da UNFCCC prejudicam os esforços para deter a séria ameaça das mudanças climáticas e seus processos de sustentação, que certamente serão aparentes em Baku em novembro. Não temos tempo para continuar no caminho dos regimes colonial de poder do combustíveis fósseis pela ONU; é hora de acabar com essa violência.”


Dr Tamra Gilbertson, Indigenous Environmental Network

“Los negociadores del SBSTA 60 continuaron con las prácticas coloniales geopolíticas que sostienen los regímenes de poder en el Norte global, poniendo en riesgo la vida de los pueblos indígenas, las mujeres y las comunidades locales. Mientras la ONU alega falta de fondos, cerca de un tercio del presupuesto se reserva para construir y mantener los mercados de carbono en el Artículo 6 del Acuerdo de París y para continuar con el mecanismo de desarrollo limpio funcionando en un estado de limbo. Los procesos de la CMNUCC socavan los esfuerzos para detener la grave amenaza del cambio climático y sus procesos subyacentes, lo que sin duda será evidente en Bakú en noviembre. No tenemos tiempo para continuar por el camino de los regímenes de desarrollo colonial basados ​​en combustibles fósiles y de acentuados por la ONU; es hora de poner fin a esta violencia.”

Mariana Pinzón, CENSAT Agua Viva/Friends of the Earth Colombia

“Termina una ronda más de negociaciones sobre el clima y, una vez más, las decisiones profundas se posponen para un nuevo ciclo. Las discusiones no responden a la urgencia de una crisis que crece exponencialmente, sino al ritmo de las grandes corporaciones de combustibles fósiles, vinculadas a su vez al sistema financiero mundial, y a la riqueza de los países del Norte Global. Los más afectados, las comunidades del Sur Global, no son escuchados. El reconocimiento de una deuda ecológica del Norte Global con el Sur Global no aparece en los debates, y mucho menos la obligación de reducir sus emisiones de GEI a cero real y no a cero “neto”. El neoextractivismo y las finanzas vinculadas a la deuda prometen mantener el statu quo. Mientras tanto, más personas se ven desplazadas por la crisis climática a medida que los gobiernos de derechas ganan espacio y levantan sus muros.”

Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice is a network of over 200 networks and organisations 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. Contact: Neha Gupta, [email protected]; Signal/Whatsapp: +91 9810 078 055