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Controversies surround Bonn Climate Change Conference as fossil fuel phasedown takes center stage

While Bonn Change Climate Conference grapples with Fossil fuel phasedown and Climate Justice, the ultimate test lies in whether this talks can deliver a comprehensive program for the upcoming COP28 Dubai Summit.

Berlin, June 10:  The Bonn Climate Change Conference, a pivotal 10-day gathering from June 05, has been marred by controversy as stakeholders engage in intense discussions. The discussions are aimed at shaping decisions to be adopted at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, this December.

One of the central figures in the discussions, Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the incoming COP28 president from the United Arab Emirates, made stronger remarks on Thursday regarding the phasedown of fossil fuels.

Previously, al-Jaber had focused on scaling down fossil fuel emissions rather than addressing the fuels themselves.

Climate activists had criticized his approach, arguing that it allowed countries to continue using fossil fuels while relying on carbon capture technologies to mitigate emissions.

In a departure from his earlier stance, al-Jaber declared, “The phasedown of fossil fuels is inevitable. The speed at which this happens depends on how quickly we can phase up zero-carbon alternatives while ensuring energy security, accessibility, and affordability.”

However, his dual position as the head of the UAE’s state oil company has drawn criticism, with more than 100 members of Congress and the European Parliament urging President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to pressure the UAE government to remove al-Jaber from the COP presidency, citing concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

During a reception hosted by the UAE in Bonn, al-Jaber called for increased progress at the ongoing UN climate conference, emphasizing its significance as a mid-way check for shaping ambitious international climate talks at COP28 in December.

The conference also highlighted the stark reality that the current global emission levels are far from the goals set by the Paris Agreement. The accord aimed to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to keep it under 1.5°C.

However, the United Nations Environment Programme warns that the world is on track for 2.7°C of warming, highlighting the urgent need for action.

Crucial to the discussions is the Global Stocktake (GST), the process responsible for reviewing the implementation of the Paris Agreement and its goals.

Another controversy arises when developing countries, including India, have demanded that the GST be guided by the principles of equity and historical responsibility.

India firmly stated its position, asserting, “We do not endorse any prescriptive directives from the GST regarding the content of our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Parties under the Paris Agreement retain the sovereign right to determine their climate targets in pursuit of their goals, and reflect them in their NDCs.’’

The climate conference in Bonn has underscored the evident North-South divide, with the Global South accusing the North of evading historical responsibility and failing to provide adequate climate financing as promised under the Paris Agreement.

Amidst growing calls from climate activists, there is a demand for a concrete action plan that goes beyond emissions reduction, urging a phased approach to eliminate fossil fuels entirely.

Activists argue that binding targets for countries, rather than non-binding NDCs, are necessary to ensure meaningful progress.

However, the ultimate test lies in whether the Bonn Climate Change Conference can deliver a comprehensive program for the upcoming COP28 Dubai Summit.

Its success in garnering acceptance from all stakeholders will determine whether significant strides can be made in mitigating and adapting to changing climate.

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