NOTNegotiators representing dozens of developing countries left Germany empty-handed as wealthy countries blocked their attempts to win compensation for damage caused by climate change.
The talks that wrapped up in Bonn on Thursday are a key part of the annual climate agenda, setting the stage for the United Nations-sponsored Conference of the Parties, or COP, in November. For two weeks, negotiators worked to translate into action the big commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow last year in preparation for COP27 in Egypt later this year.
“Developed countries don’t want to pay a dime,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the nonprofit International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh. “They give us dialogue and that means talk, talk, talk without action – that’s no longer acceptable.”
Developing countries failed to put the issue – known in climate diplomacy jargon as “loss and damage” – on the official COP27 agenda. Although technical, the step is crucial to ensure that discussions take place at the highest level regarding climate finance for poor countries that are not responsible for global warming but bear the brunt of impacts such as floods and heat waves.
“Over the past two weeks, we have worked with all our might to make progress,” said Jennifer Morgan, German Deputy Foreign Minister and former director of Greenpeace International. “Ultimately, we didn’t go as far as we wanted – we as a federal government also wanted more.
The EU and other developed countries recognize the urgency of the issue of loss and damage and are committed to strengthening existing arrangements, the European Commission said in a statement on Friday. The bloc’s executive body has called on wealthy countries to meet the pledges they have made on climate finance.
The debate over loss and damage has continued since the approval of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. Although wealthy countries have recognized that global warming is causing catastrophes that cannot be avoided adapt, they never agreed that it warranted compensation. The issue is expected to take center stage at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, which will be the first in an African country in more than a decade.
“Major policy decisions, including on the financing of loss and damage, need to be taken at COP27,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in a statement. “Now we need to make sure that Sharm el-Sheikh will truly be the place where the important promises of the Paris Agreement are delivered.”
Delegates to the Bonn talks, which are designed to focus on technical issues, have run out of negotiating space and will now need senior officials from their governments to inject political ambition, said program chief Alex Scott. climate diplomacy and geopolitics to the think tank. E3G. There are plenty of international gatherings between now and November to do just that, including the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda and the G-7 summit in Germany later this month. But if loss and damage is not on the official COP27 agenda, the issue will be stalled and delayed again, Scott said.
“Perhaps the most decisive outcome of these talks is that developed countries now realize that the chorus calling for solutions to loss and damage is only growing louder,” said David Waskow, director of climate action. international at the World Resources Institute. “Now the pressure is on for leaders to take over and use the upcoming diplomatic rallies to build the political momentum needed ahead of COP27.”
As officials gathered in Bonn, nonprofits protested outside the venue and staged demonstrations in hallways outside meeting rooms. Activists will now take these protests back to their home countries and lobby their political leaders over the coming months.
“We’re not going to let them get away with this,” Huq said. “We will continue to press and they cannot refuse to give money indefinitely.”
One of the issues on which the talks advanced concerned the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which proposes carbon market mechanisms to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The delegations worked out a compromise text which will be taken up again at COP27 for new negotiations.
But that was little comfort to those calling for greater action on loss and damage. “At the moment there is no movement,” said Tasneem Essop, executive director of the nonprofit Climate Action Network International. “We’ll leave here having to come back to people saying we didn’t get any results that will meet your needs.”
—With help from Iain Rogers and Ewa Krukowska.
More Must-Try Stories from TIME