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Patricia Espinosa

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, speaks on the opening day of the UNFCCC's climate conference on June 6, 2022 in Bonn, Germany. (Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Climate Summit Ends in 'Unconscionable' Failure as Rich Nations Turn Backs on Poorest

"We have had enough of you offering crumbs with one hand while you starve the world with the other," said one campaigner. "Your empty words cannot fill our stomachs or protect our homelands."

Julia Conley

As international delegates left Germany Friday following the Bonn Climate Change Conference, climate campaigners called the talks, which lasted 10 days this month, an "utter failure" for neglecting to establish plans to support the Global South in adapting to the planetary crisis—months after developing countries demanded aid at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland.

"It is unconscionable that developed countries continue to kick the issue of financing for loss and damage down the road—first COP26, now Bonn," said Jeni Miller, executive director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, referring to the impacts of the climate crisis which developing nations have already suffered and demanding that the issue get badly-needed attention at upcoming talks.

"Such financing would enable countries to deal with the impacts on their people’s lives and livelihoods, homes and health systems, and must be a core component of the COP27 agenda," Miller added.

Deepening campaigners' anger was the fact that European countries present at the Bonn conference are currently boosting fossil fuel imports to replace the gas shipments they previously received from Russia, which were largely discontinued after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine earlier this year.

"The E.U. completely misses the point of what it is to be a climate leader," said Chiara Martinelli, director of Climate Action Network Europe. "European countries also urgently need to massively ramp up their climate and energy targets, rather than displace oil and gas from Russia with those from developing countries, further locking them into fossil fuels. That's what climate leaders should do."

Focusing on sourcing new fossil fuels from overseas while "consistently" blocking discussions about loss and damage financing in Bonn "exposed [the E.U.'s] hypocritical stance," said Harjeet Singh, the group's senior climate impacts advisor.

"Climate impacts are worsening throughout the world, hitting the most marginalized communities, and rich countries are still refusing to acknowledge their climate debt by providing finance for loss and damage."

Patricia Espinosa, the outgoing executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), claimed the talks in Bonn took steps "in several technical areas" including a "global stocktake" mechanism, which will allow officials to assess international progress toward the target of limiting planetary heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

That view, said Aurore Mathieu, international policy coordinator for Climate Action Network France, highlights "the huge disconnect between the urgency of the climate crisis and the inability to progress on concrete outcomes to respond to it."

"Climate impacts are worsening throughout the world, hitting the most marginalized communities, and rich countries are still refusing to acknowledge their climate debt by providing finance for loss and damage," said Mathieu.

Wealthy countries, added Sara Shaw of Friends of the Earth International, are "sleepwalking us all into catastrophe," noting that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that the world only has three years at most to reach peak carbon emissions before they must begin reducing them.

"The disconnect between the accelerating climate crisis outside the conference halls and the lack of concrete action inside is palpable," said Shaw. "Developed countries refuse to even discuss long owed and vital loss and damage finance. Instead of taking action, rich countries are trying to shift responsibility for action to developing countries, while expanding their own plans to extract fossil fuels and chasing unproven technofixes."

"We know the solution is a rapid and equitable phase out of fossil fuels and a shift to people-centered renewables," she added.

The climate talks took place as Delhi, India faced a severe heatwave in which meteorologists have recorded temperatures of 107°F and above for 25 days since the summer began.

Indian delegates were among those who demanded in Bonn that wealthy countries help provide "massive funding so the government can prepare for extreme weather events by building early warning systems."

The climate emergency has also pushed Madagascar toward the planet's first climate-fueled famine and is expected by 2050 to internally displace 86 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, 40 million in South Asia, 19 million in North Africa, and 17 million in Latin America.

"One out of five people in Africa are suffering from hunger, and this is just one of countless ways the climate crisis is spurring devastation that is ripping through our communities," said Hellen Neima, Africa climate director for Corporate Accountability International. "We have had enough of rich, polluting countries silencing those trying to fight for justice."

"We have had enough of you offering crumbs with one hand while you starve the world with the other," Neima added. "We have had enough of our lives being valued as less worthy than Big Polluters' profits... Your empty words cannot fill our stomachs or protect our homelands. People in Africa are rising up and will continue to rise up, until the justice that is owed is delivered at COP27."

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