COP 28 and SB60: What’s next?

Date: 01 July 2024

By Stefanie Tornow, World YMCA delegate

At COP28, parties decided to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, the so-called Global Stocktake (GST) decision, and encouraged themselves to include ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for 2025. Six months later, the Intersessionals (SB60) happening in Bonn, Germany—a bit like a pre-conference to figure out what to negotiate during COP—were the first opportunity for parties to talk about how to implement these decisions.

Key adaptation topics and finance

Together with my great colleagues Emma Hundertmark (YWCA-YMCA of Sweden) and Niklas Hammann (YMCA Bonn, Germany), we represented the World Alliance of YMCAs and followed the most important discussions, which will continue in November during COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

One of the main topics at this year’s Intersessionals was Adaptation with rather weak results. At COP28, negotiators established a “global goal on adaptation” (GGA) to guide countries in preparing for rising temperatures. Developing countries in the G77 and China group advocated for significant adaptation finance and recognition of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” highlighting the historical responsibility of developed countries. However, they were unsuccessful in securing these demands. Ultimately, negotiators found a compromise in the outcome text which will be forwarded to talks in Baku.

Another major point of contention was which organisation should “map” existing adaptation indicators. Developed countries and regions like the US, the EU, and Japan preferred the Adaptation Committee to handle this task, while G77 countries favoured a newly formed expert group. Ultimately, a compromise was reached, with a footnote in the final text leaving different options open for future discussions.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and finance issues

Last but not least, another notable strand of adaptation negotiations at Bonn focused on countries’ national adaptation plans (NAPs). NAPs allow countries to plan for climate impacts, but an assessment of them has been repeatedly delayed. Around 50 countries have NAPs in place, but the GGA envisages comprehensive NAP coverage by 2030. Again, finance is a central issue, as developed countries say they need money not only to implement NAPs but to actually put them together in the first place. In the end, following disputes over the role of private finance in adaptation and the long delays in receiving funds for NAP production, negotiators settled on a lengthy, seven-page “informal note” that included issues both developed and developing countries disagreed with.

We already see, finance is everywhere and highly important—now even more. At COP 21 in 2015, parties agreed to negotiate a “new collective quantified goal” (NCQG) for climate finance to replace the USD 100 billion per year target. Progress on negotiating the NCQG has been sluggish.

Nations have faced disagreements on nearly every aspect of the new target, including the total amount of funding, the contributors, the recipients, and the types of funds to be included. The primary divide is between developed countries, traditionally responsible for providing finance, and developing countries, which are the intended recipients.

Another topic we followed was the discussions on “loss and damage”—the unavoidable harm caused by climate disasters. They have taken centre stage at recent climate negotiations. At COP28, the Loss and Damage Fund was established to aid developing countries grappling with loss and damage, marking a significant victory after years of pressure from climate-vulnerable nations in the global south. With the fund now in place, attention at the Bonn discussions shifted to the NCQG, making loss and damage less prominent. However, one major sticking point in the NCQG discussions was the insistence of developing countries on a separate “window” specifically for loss and damage, in addition to funds for mitigation and adaptation. As with many issues in the NCQG, there was a clear divide between developed and developing countries on this topic.

Overall, parties did not really make much progress in discussions, leaving most of the work to be done during COP29 in Baku. The spotlight will continue to be on finance, with the importance of the new global climate finance goal hanging over preparations.