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Ah Bonn eh bien

19 Jun 2024 | News Roundup

We know you all cannot wait for COP29. It will be “historic”. They all are. But fear not. All eyes are currently not on Bonn where blah blah blah. In fundraising to cover this non-event, Climate Home News wrote “The mid-year climate talks in Bonn are a key event for policy makers, researchers and NGOs working to move climate action forward, but one that gets little attention from the world’s media.” Midyear talks a key event? Nothing even happens at the main COP conferences, let alone the intervening gabfests that lay the ground for the expensive high-profile main failure to come.

What? you cry. Or they do. See, both events will be glorious triumphs provided they acquire magic powers pronto:

“Governments know what they need to pull out of the hat at COP29: a new climate finance goal that’s bigger, better and bolder than the infamous $100 billion a year agreed 15 years ago. With just a few months to go before the UN summit in Azerbaijan, the pressure is on negotiators in Bonn to come up with concrete options for the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) by next Thursday when the talks end.”

But which is it? Do they need a bigger, better and bolder empty promise than whatever that $100 billion thing even was? Or concrete options? Or can they no longer tell the difference? At least they have a new acronym to throw around. Adopting the NCQG code word just gives insiders a cryptic way of talking about how a bunch of virtue-signalling rich-country politicians promise to loot their own citizens yet again and hand it to some shady poor-country politicians. No thanks.

According to some publication out of Singapore that thinks any of this stuff might happen, the $100 billion promised at Paris hasn’t materialized so naturally instead of trying to collect it, what we need now is an even less believable promise. And in a way it’s in the spirit. As the piece notes,

“The COP29 Presidency from Azerbaijan has set out its plan for the November climate change conference, which lead negotiator Yalchin Rafiyev has billed as a ‘litmus test for the Paris Climate Agreement’.”

Guys, we already did that test a bunch of times. The paper doesn’t change colour. There’s no there there. Practically nobody’s meeting their goals and they aren’t going to. Next question?

Well, from us it’s “How many people are gathered at this festival of futility?” And “How can you bear to report it with a straight face?” Because apparently the fundraising worked, for them anyway. A subsequent CHN piece said:

“As the 8,000 or so delegates make their way to the World Conference Centre, next to the River Rhine and UN Climate Change’s tower block headquarters, Joe Lo and Matteo Civillini are headed there on the Eurostar thanks to your generous donations!”

Eight thousand delegates? Not exactly a small focused get-it-done session, then? No indeed. Although by comparison it was:

“Last year, it took nine days and desperate pleading to even agree on an agenda. This year, that was wrapped up without fuss on the opening morning.”

How proud you must be. And what exactly did last year’s agenda contain, or lead to? Um yes well uh that is to say… As they were forced to include in an update:

“It’s been less than six months since countries struck a historic deal to “transition away from fossil fuels” after bitter fights and sleepless nights at COP28. But, in Bonn right now, discussions on what to do next about the biggest culprit of climate change seem to have largely disappeared from the agenda. ‘It’s really jarring to see how quiet the conversation on fossil fuels has gone,’ said Tom Evans, a senior policy advisor at E3G, adding that the trouble is this issue ‘doesn’t have a clear home at the UNFCCC right now’.”

You keep using that word historic. We do not think it means what you think it means. But if you were looking for a home for that issue, arguably you wouldn’t have chosen Baku. Just saying.

Mind you one might make the same point about this NCQG non-starter. And they did:

“At the start of the two weeks of talks here in Bonn, UN Climate supremo Simon Stiell called on negotiators to ‘make every hour count’ and to ‘move from zero-draft to real options’ on a post-2025 finance goal. ‘We cannot afford to reach Baku with too much work still to do,’ he warned. But, at the last of Bonn’s sessions on that new climate finance goal on Tuesday afternoon, the chasm between developed and developing countries remained unbridged and, rather than ‘real options’, all negotiators have to show is a 35-page informal input paper. Perhaps the biggest divide is over setting a dollar target. Developing countries have put forward figures like $1.1 trillion and $1.3 trillion. Developed nations have suggested nothing other than that it should be higher than the previous $100-billion goal.”

Which they didn’t meet anyway. What a way to spend your time even if you are an impotent “supremo”, although of course everyone there’s on an expense account so at least it’s not also their money.

Mind you promises are a dime a dozen. As Reuters observed sourly in an otherwise unrelated climate piece:

“Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels – the main cause of climate change – hit a record high last year despite global agreements designed to curb their release and a rapid expansion in renewable energy.”

Yet the promises they’re managing to get at Bonn don’t seem worth even ten cents in inflation-eroded currency:

“At an event on the sidelines of Wednesday’s talks, the ‘Troika’ of COP presidencies was very clear that the next round of national climate plans (NDCs [Nationally Determined Contributions]) must be aligned with a global warming limit of 1.5C. The three countries – the UAE, Azerbaijan and Brazil – have all promised to set an example by publishing ‘1.5-aligned’ plans by early next year. What their negotiators were not so clear on, however, was what it means for an NDC to be 1.5-aligned. Asked by Destination Zero’s Cat Abreu about the risk of ‘1.5 washing’, Brazil’s head of delegation Liliam Chagas replied that ‘there is no international multilaterally agreed methodology to define what is an NDC aligned to 1.5’. ‘It’s up to each one to decide,’ she said.”

As with how to meet their Paris commitments, including that $100 billion? Oh dear. I went to Bonn and all I got was this lousy neologism.

5 comments on “Ah Bonn eh bien”

  1. Oh dear, as a confirmed tree hugger, this is embarrassing, I mean, can they be any more useless as well as expensive?
    As if to confirm how duplicitous these people have become, there's this lovely piece of snark on how to get the most column inches out of hyping that, that doesn't exist while feeling proud. A "How To" manual if you like from El Gato:

  2. If Donald Trump were half the Satanical creature that his detractors believe and happens to evade the partisan lawfare of the US Justice septic tank long enough to return to the White House, being someone who knows something about Manhattan real estate, he would mercifully evict the UN and after demolishing the structure use it's pieces as rip rap on the banks of the Hudson River. The UN headquarters belongs in Darfur and no civilized nation should be a member. Global pseudo-green theocracy is not what anyone I know voted for,

  3. How long will be before one of our more progressive universities offers a course in COP studies? With all the latest acronyms of course. And a postgrad course in COP negotiations dynamics.

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