The first week of intermediate climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany, confirmed that the negotiating strategy of the Countries of the Global South, supported by China, responds to a long-term and multilevel vision. More concretely, the countries of the G77 group and the Chinese were not satisfied with the historic victory of the negotiations in 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, when they managed to unpack the front of the rich Countries and get approval for the creation of a fund for loss and damage after 30 years of debate, in Bonn the bar is in fact getting higher, thanks to the occasion of the launch of the first global inventory of the countries’ efforts planned for this year at the COP: the so-called global stocktake.

But what is it about? As explained in previous articles of our COP Bulletin from Bonn, the countries will have to confront each other on the basis of what has been done against the climate and fossil crisis – not promised, but done – collectively since 2020 (beginning of the period covered by the Paris Agreement) up to now, to straighten things out, improve its policies and relaunch the ambition of the Agreement for the next few years, up to the next stocktake in five years. If in 2022 the Countries of the Global South with a strong support from China insisted on the topic of loss and damage, apparently off the political agenda, this year they aim at getting the rich and developed Countries to accept a stocktake that takes into account not only what has been done from 2020 to today, but also of pre-2020 historical emissions, policies and responsibilities, simply because not all countries started from the same starting block.

The concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities“, part of the Framework Convention since 1992 which regulates and directs the domain of UN climate negotiations, foresees (or at least it should) that the policies, agreements and protocols following the 1992 agreements take into account, precisely, the historical responsibilities and the effective spending as well as the intellectual capacities of each member of the UN, from the United States to Zimbabwe. This principle of solidarity has, over the years, found great consensus but very little application, especially when referring to historical responsibilities in terms of emissions. So, only six months after the putsch on loss and damage, the G77 plus China are trying again, to the point of blocking the adoption of the agenda – something quite unheard of in the context of the negotiations – to avoid including new global ambitions on mitigation by rich countries in the absence of competing guarantees on adaptation, loss and damage, climate finance and, indeed, the construction of a fair and inclusive stocktake.

In particular, the Countries of the Global South wanted to hinder the inclusion in the agenda of a work point on the Mitigation Work Program (MWP), launched two years ago in Glasgow and relaunched in Sharm el-Sheikh to equip the COP of a path that could lead to new global commitments on mitigation, however with the precise indication of not providing new quantitative goals. The G77 plus China have stonewalled on this point because they consider it a paradox to talk about new money to be spent to reduce emissions (of all countries) when those historically responsible for the problem do not agree to consider their own past in the collective “review” of policies.

According to the EU delegation for the negotiations, met twice by our volunteer Teresa Giuffré, some Countries of the Global South felt cheated on the MWP, precisely because there is the feeling that, in a context of almost non-collaboration on other issues such as finance and loss and damage, the inclusion of new numerical targets for the major polluters China and India is also requested, something not envisioned by the directive of the Work Program. All this while the same Southern Countries are demanding the inclusion of a pre-2020 data flow provided for the stocktake. In other words, a significant bottleneck.

In this type of negotiations, the last night is never left without an agreement, even if the intermediates act by definition as a bridge in the negotiations towards the next COP. In any case, it is clear that the double issue MWP – stocktake will go on until the last days of next week, when political intervention from the capitals will probably become necessary to break the deadlock. As always, we will keep you updated via our COP Bulletin from the intermediate negotiations.

Article by Jacopo Bencini, Policy Advisor and UNFCCC Contact Point

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