Climate impacts are getting more severe across the globe, a chilling reminder that there is no more time to waste. Halfway through 2024 and the critical decade of climate action, the midyear UN Climate Change Conference – the 60th session of the Subsidiary Bodies – kicked off on Monday in Bonn, Germany, running from June 3–13. The Bonn sessions are an important platform to continue negotiations on key topics in preparation for the UN’s main COP29 Climate Conference in Azerbaijan in November.  

This year, climate finance – specifically, who and how to deliver finance to support developing countries in their climate adaptation and mitigation efforts – will take centre stage, with a new global climate finance goal to be set for the first time in 15 years. Also high on the agenda are setting expectations for the next cycle of national climate targets, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), due to be submitted by early 2025, and corporate accountability in climate action, among others. 

Here are three topics to look out for in the Bonn sessions, along with insights from NewClimate experts on what should be achieved for the event to truly be a catalyst in accelerating climate action.  

Governments should strengthen their 2030 targets before COP29 this November and propose ambitious 2035 NDC targets aligned with a 1.5°C compatible net-zero pathway by early 2025

This year’s Bonn session will see negotiations laying the groundwork for the new cycle of NDCs, which countries are requested to submit every five years in line with the Paris Agreement. The deadline for submitting the next round of NDCs for 2035 is April next year. 

Despite the countries focused on drafting the NDCs for the next cycle, it is important to revisit where the current targets for 2030 would leave the world. Over the past two years, global emissions and temperature projections have worsened, and existing NDCs remain inadequate to curb global emissions at the scale and speed needed to keep the 1.5°C target achievable. The current NDCs are projected to lead to a temperature increase of 2.5°C despite clear scientific evidence: to maintain a 1.5°C pathway, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025, be halved by 2030, and continue declining steeply to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by around 2050. 

Therefore, countries should urgently work towards strengthening the 2030 targets to align with a 1.5°C compatible net-zero pathway and take corresponding action between now and 2030 -- a critical global milestone to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Waiting until 2035 would be too late to keep the 1.5°C target within reach, notes Maria Jose de Villafranca, a NewClimate expert who works on the Climate Action Tracker, NewClimate’s flagship project with Climate Analytics.  

“What we have seen over the past two years is that the collective effort of national climate targets continuously falls short of what this climate emergency demands. Countries need to strengthen 2030 targets and implement policies to support them now. Failing to do so will result in even more severe climate impacts. Strengthening the 2030 targets is the first step towards ambitious, 1.5°C-aligned 2035 NDCs.”  

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Wealthy countries must step up their financial contribution to support developing countries in their adaptation and mitigation efforts while pursuing sustainable development – the key to keep the 1.5°C goal alive

Setting more ambitious NDCs and implementing climate action plans at the necessary pace and scale requires substantial financing. The need for international support is especially acute for developing countries, which have lower historical responsibility and capacity to mitigate emissions yet are the most vulnerable to intensifying climate impacts. Estimates for financial needs vary widely depending on the quantification method, but the Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance estimates that emerging markets and developing countries, excluding China, will need about $2.4 trillion per year by 2030 to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

In Bonn, all eyes are on draft negotiations for the climate finance goal after 2025 -- New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) – expected to be unveiled during COP29. The NCQG follows the previous pledge by developed countries to mobilise or provide $100 billion annually by 2020 in climate finance to support developing countries. This goal was missed and only met in 2022, two years later than the initial target year of 2020. But this amount is nowhere near enough. 

The new figure for the NCQG will be an important indicator of the ambition and sincerity of developed countries in fulfilling their obligations, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, to support developing countries in their climate fight and stay aligned with the 1.5°C goal. Other critical elements to be discussed include who provides the finance and how, the quality and sources of the funds, and the mechanisms and instruments to ensure transparency and accountability in delivery.

While details are up for discussion, one thing seems clear: wealthy nations must ramp up their financial contributions to share the costs of climate action in developing countries. This would encourage all other countries to commit to more ambitious climate action. Equally important is to create a mechanism that does not further exacerbate the debt burden of developing countries, which are often already heavily in debt, notes NewClimate expert Imogen Outlaw.

“It is time for leading economies to step up and demonstrate decisive climate leadership. This involves taking ambitious climate action domestically and providing additional climate finance to developing countries to support their implementation efforts. Failure to act will further erode trust.” 

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Recognizing the importance of corporate action in achieving NDCs, the UNFCCC should play a more active role in protecting the integrity of corporate voluntary initiatives’ governance structures

Given the urgency of addressing climate change, the role of non-state entities is also vital in accelerating climate action – especially, the role of corporate actors in raising countries’ climate ambition and strengthening their NDCs. 

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in corporations joining climate action initiatives, such as the Science-Based Targets initiative, which aims to assess and validate companies’ emissions reduction targets. However, these initiatives have not always led to credible corporate action, partly due to the absence of oversight in the voluntary corporate accountability system. More alarmingly, recent media reports suggest that these voluntary initiatives are highly exposed to and subjected to corporate influence, with some companies and individuals seeking to reshape them to serve their own interests.  

Against this backdrop, UNFCCC launched the Recognition and Accountability Framework in 2023, proposing to take on greater responsibility for overseeing the validation of non-state actors’ pledges and transition plans, including those of corporations. The framework was subject to consultation last year. Recommendations made by the consultation’s co-chairs, published last week, suggest that the UNFCCC should implement measures to provide transparency and accountability for corporate voluntary net-zero initiatives, rather than directly overseeing the validations.  

As stakeholders continue negotiations on engaging non-state actors in climate action and improving corporate accountability in Bonn, it is important to discuss the role of the UNFCCC in enhancing the integrity of corporate voluntary initiatives. The UNFCCC should play a more active role in ensuring that major corporate accountability initiatives adhere to robust governance practices and are protected from undue influence. To achieve this, the UNFCCC could encourage the introduction of key elements within an initiative, such as (a) grievance, complaint, and whistleblowing mechanisms, (b) independent technical and scientific councils for final decision-making on standards, and (c) public registrations of potential conflicts of interest by active individuals, notes NewClimate expert Thomas Day. 

“The recent issues around voluntary initiatives like the Science Based Targets initiative and others have shown that the current corporate climate accountability system is vulnerable to undue influence, in the absence of any oversight. Parties should recognise the importance of corporate action for supporting the achievement and enhancement of their NDCs – and advocate for urgently needed governance structures to enable voluntary initiatives to fulfil their full potential, unlock a race-to-the-top, and provide meaningful accountability.” 

Relevant reports 

As usual, a team of NewClimate experts will be present at the Bonn session. Join us for side events featuring experts who will share insights from their latest research to address the deteriorating climate crisis.


Written by Hyunju (Laeticia) Ock, Writer and Editor at NewClimate Institute

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