COP28, scheduled for the end of the year, is likely to be a fraught affair, if signs from the inter-sessional conference in Bonn are any indication. Photo: IISD

Bonn conference begins on discordant note

This year’s Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB58) didn’t get off to a good start as countries failed to reach a consensus on an agenda for the conference. Among the issues that were contentious were Global Stocktake (GST), mitigation and adaptation. This will be the first climate negotiation after the IPCC’s latest report warning governments to radically accelerate the reduction of oil, gas and coal use by 2030 and increase investments in renewable energy. 

COP28 president Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, however, made a strong statement at Bonn by declaring the “phase-down of fossil fuels is inevitable”. This is an upgrade from his previous statements calling for a scaling down of fossil fuel emissions and not the fuels themselves. 

The conference will also see the first negotiations on the Just Transition Work Program agreed to at COP27. Around 2.1 million workers from the informal economy are demanding a just transition to a low carbon future at these formal discussions. 

During a discussion on GST, India intervened to say it will not accept “prescriptive messages” on what should be included in nationally determined contributions. India, along with other developing countries, demanded the GST follow the principles of equity and historic responsibility.  The first week saw disagreements between country delegations over the framing of mitigation and emission reduction responsibilities, and the inclusion of gaps in implementing climate action from the pre-2020 period, when the Paris Agreement came into force. In all, COP28, scheduled for the end of the year, is likely to be a fraught affair, if signs from the inter-sessional conference in Bonn are any indication.

EU formally notifies its carbon border tax at WTO 

The implementation of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) has been formally notified by the European Union at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EU told the WTO that it will now begin an information campaign, in which it will host online seminars, physical events and distribute guidance documents, among other initiatives. It has promised to offer direct assistance to third country operators and importers to ensure CBAM is followed. 

This is bad news for India and its $8 billion worth of exports, especially in the aluminium and steel sectors. India is likely to discuss this impact at the next negotiating group meeting for the India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) later this month. CBAM is likely to result in 20-35% additional tax on select Indian goods exported to the EU. India is keen to discuss ways to mitigate this impact at the FTA meet.  

IMD chief elected as one of the vice-presidents of WMO

The director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) M Mohapatra was elected as one of the three vice-presidents in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The position is significant because the WMO monitors climate change, and mitigation measures such as early warnings and disaster preparedness. The post is part of the WMO’s Executive Council, which includes a general secretary, and a president, along with three vice-presidents. Mohapatra received 113 of the 148 votes during the elections held at the World Meteorological Congress in Geneva this week. 

The Congress, meanwhile, agreed that climate change threatens human health. It endorsed a plan to upgrade health services in the next 10 years. The 2023-2033 Implementation Plan for Advancing Climate, Environment and Health Science and Services aims to effectively integrate climate, environment and health science and services across the world for the well being of those affected by extreme weather and other environmental risks. 

Youth vs State climate case goes to trial for the first time in the US

Among the many climate cases brought by youth against US states, the first one to go to trial comes from the state of Montana. The 16 litigants, who were all between ages 2 and 18 when the lawsuit was filed in 2020, are looking to fix the accountability of the state in promoting fossil-fuel friendly policies and exacerbating the climate crisis. According to the plaintiffs, the state’s “systemic authorization, permitting, encouragement and facilitation” of fossil fuels contravenes a 1972 amendment to the Montana Constitution which ensures the protection and improvement of the environment.