Today, Monday 5 June 2023, the Interim Climate Negotiations under the auspices of the UNFCCC, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, began – the same setting in which the much better-known climate COPs are organised every year.

The Italian Climate Network has always followed the interim negotiations because, during the two weeks in June (which always take place in Bonn, Germany, where the UNFCCC is headquartered), not only is the secretariat’s budget for the rest of the year and other (apparently) technical issues defined, but it is also possible to understand the general direction of international policy and thus the atmosphere in preparation for the next COP. A prime example was the 2022 interims when, in the cosmic nothingness of a negotiation semi-paralysed by the Ukrainian crisis, the countries of the Global South launched the ‘great revolt’ against the rich North on the issue of loss and damage compensation, which resulted – a success unforeseen only six months earlier – in the adoption of the new loss and damage fund at COP27.

These 2023 interims should prepare for COP28 on a few key points. Work in earnest on the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement, i.e., the inventory, for better or worse, of the actions put (or not put) in place by states six years after the Agreement itself entered into force. Prepare the field for the launch of the new fund to compensate for losses and damages, planned precisely for COP28, in parallel with the work of the ad hoc transition committee. Push towards the definition of a new global (financial) target on adaptation policies. These are the most eagerly awaited topics, which were also taken up by Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, in the eagerly awaited press conference at the end of the first day of work.

The day did not get off to a great start, with country delegates unable to agree on the agenda itself, it is said under pressure from some states that are less inclined to negotiate at this stage on mitigation policies, i.e. on reducing their emissions, or rather – our reading – on how to report on their progress in this regard in the global stocktake at the end of the year. In a nutshell, it seems that some delegations want to immediately try to lighten the exercise, watering it down. A far from positive sign.

Even the press conference of Stiell and the heads of the technical support bodies of the Secretariat was postponed several times during the day precisely to try to understand whether an agreement on the agenda would be found or not, a hypothesis that waned as the hours passed. Formal work on the more peaceful issues began, however, without an agenda being formally adopted, postponing the adoption of the complete framework until tomorrow. ‘Unresolved issues’, the two coordinators of the subsidiary supporting bodies played down, admitting that no compromise had been found on some issues. In short, a lame and quite unusual start.

Stiell himself emphasised, again at the press conference, that about the inventory of policies to be presented at the end of the year, the countries are behind on their promises and that therefore not a minute to lose either in Bonn, given the deepening crisis – a not too concealed reference precisely to those countries that today wanted to slow down the process. 

What began today in an unpromising manner is nevertheless, as every year, a two-week-long negotiation, and the many delegations have plenty of time to get back on track as early as tomorrow morning. 

Article by Jacopo Bencini, Policy Advisor and UNFCCC Contact Point

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