Report on the SB60 climate negotiations in Bonn

“There is a need for innovative legal solutions to address climate change”

SB60 climate negotiations in Bonn

The 60th biannual sessions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) subsidiary bodies (SB60) in Bonn unfolded against a backdrop of geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties. The event highlighted the complex interplay of global challenges and urgent climate action imperatives. Amid worsening trade disputes, ongoing regional conflicts, persistent inflation in major economies, and forthcoming democratic elections, the path forward for the energy transition and coordinated climate action appeared increasingly fraught, raising intricate questions about the intersection of international law, climate policy, and global governance.

Climate Finance Negotiations

Climate finance dominated the discussions, with negotiations centered on an ‘ad hoc work programme’ aimed at producing a foundational text for COP29 in Baku. The looming deadline to agree on a new global climate finance goal cast a long shadow over the proceedings. Fundamental disagreements persisted on key issues:

  • Developed nations advocated for a broader definition of climate finance, emphasizing private sector contributions and reforms to multilateral development banks.
  • Developing countries staunchly defended the primacy of public funds from developed nations.

The question of expanding the donor base to include wealthy yet still “developing” countries added another layer of complexity to an already intricate debate. These discussions underscored the need for clear legal definitions and frameworks in international climate finance.

Just Transition Work Programme (JTWP)

The Just Transition Work Programme (JTWP) emerged as another flashpoint between developed and developing nations. Developed countries viewed the JTWP primarily through the lens of job creation, while developing nations pushed for a more comprehensive approach. This divergence raised important questions about the legal obligations of states in ensuring a just transition and the potential for creating binding international standards.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

The upcoming round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) due in 2025 was underscored by the UNEP’s 2023 Emissions Gap report, which highlighted that current NDC pledges fall short of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C. The launch of the NDC 3.0 Navigator by UN Climate Change and the NDC Partnership provided a tool to help countries develop more ambitious and implementable NDCs.

Military GHG Mitigation

A notable omission from the discussions was the integration of military GHG mitigation commitments into new NDCs. This gap in the discourse raised concerns about the potential for reduced external scrutiny and diminished likelihood of delivering on existing military GHG mitigation plans. The legal challenges of incorporating military emissions into national climate commitments and the potential need for new international agreements in this area were considered significant.

Climate Action in Fragile Contexts

The focus on climate action in fragile contexts was a particularly intriguing aspect of the conference. The event “From Dubai to Baku: Accelerating climate action programming and practice in fragile contexts” highlighted the growing recognition of the interplay between climate change, peace, and security. Building on the COP28 Declaration, there was a push to include this theme on the COP29 agenda, emphasizing water scarcity, food insecurity, landmine contamination, and environmental degradation resulting from conflict. The ongoing war in Ukraine underscored the inextricable link between climate action and global security, with Ukrainian climate negotiators highlighting the immediate and long-term environmental consequences of warfare.

Looking Ahead to COP29

As the conference drew to a close, attention turned to the upcoming COP29 in Baku. The Bonn talks laid bare the challenges ahead but also highlighted areas where progress was possible. The road to meaningful climate action remains fraught with obstacles, but the urgency of the task continues to drive the international community forward, however imperfectly.

The SB60 in Bonn revealed the complex interplay of international law, climate policy, and global politics that will shape the outcomes of future negotiations and the effectiveness of global climate action. As the international community moves towards COP29, there is a clear need for innovative legal solutions to address the multifaceted challenges of climate change. This may include the strengthening of existing frameworks and the creation of more robust enforcement mechanisms. The evolving landscape of international climate law will play a crucial role in determining the success of global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the years to come.


IKEM – Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility e.V.