Delegates stormed out of a session at the Bonn Climate Summit on Monday as a Russian representative delivered a statement, highlighting the geopolitical tensions overshadowing the deliberations.

The low-key protest was Russia’s first appearance at a UN climate conference since the invasion of Ukraine, but it had little effect on the negotiations.

Climate diplomats and experts have warned nations not to exploit geopolitical tensions and skyrocketing energy costs as an excuse for failing to meet their climate pledges.

These are the first UN climate talks since Russia invaded Ukraine, and the first since the Cop26 conference in Glasgow in November, which concluded with nations promising to reassemble this year with stronger promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN’s climate director, Patricia Espinosa, warned: “Climate change is not an agenda we can afford to push back on our global schedule.” We urgently need choices and measures, and it is incumbent on all governments to achieve progress in Bonn.”

If the targets on carbon reduction are met, the temperature increase will be less than 2 degrees Celsius, the first time this threshold has been attained. However, this is still far short of the 1.5C limit that nations have committed to. Analysts believe that stronger commitments are urgently required.

Many nations have room to engage more aggressively, especially since rising energy costs have prompted them to reassess their energy security. According to Niklas Höhne of the NewClimate Institute, “the EU could take the lead because it is already on track to exceed its renewables targets.” It would be great to have at least one major emitter stand up and… lead the way.”

On existing policies and measures, the globe will warm by at least 2.7 degrees Celsius, and perhaps by 3.6 degrees Celsius. Last week, the three live former UN climate chiefs issued a rare unified statement in the Guardian, highlighting the “implementation gap” and criticizing governments for failing to put their commitments into policy.

In Bonn, Espinosa also urged for action. “In Egypt, Cop27 must focus on implementation.” Nations must demonstrate how they will implement the [2015] Paris Agreement in their own nations via laws, policies, and programs across all authorities and sectors,” she added.

The fortnight-long Bonn negotiations are unlikely to result in any breakthroughs or clear conclusions, but they will provide a chance for governments to iron out problems left over from Glasgow and lay out preparations for Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Observers will be watching closely to gauge the mood at the discussions and if nations are ready to collaborate, amid rising geopolitical tensions around the Ukraine crisis, economic and social turmoil caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, and high energy and food costs.

At Glasgow, negotiators ultimately signed off on the Paris rulebook, a collection of instructions and agreements required to implement the 2015 deal. Thousands of hours of negotiation time have been spent on these complicated technical problems, which also included thorny political quandaries such as whether to let nations to utilize carbon trading to reach their emissions targets. Countries should, in principle, have allowed far more room at Bonn and Egypt for negotiators to engage with substantive issues like carbon reductions.

However, difficult issues remain, such as the protection of the world’s forests, the means of providing finance for poor countries to adapt to the effects of climate breakdown, and the perplexing issue of loss and damage, which refers to the types of catastrophic damage that cannot be adapted to and for which poor countries will require special assistance.


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