BONN, Germany — This was supposed to be the United Arab Emirates’ chance to prove its critics wrong.
The host of this year’s COP28 climate summit was under pressure to set out a clear vision at preparatory talks held at the United Nations HQ in Bonn amid growing unease over the petrostate’s fossil fuel interests.
But by the time negotiators departed the former West German capital on Thursday, concerns about the UAE’s handling of the global climate talks had only deepened.
“Bridges are not being built,” said one EU diplomat, who was granted anonymity to candidly discuss the negotiations. “I’m worried that at COP28, half of the countries will want to talk about funding and half about reducing emissions, as happened here.”
The 10-day Bonn talks were consumed by a power struggle over the conference agenda, which remained unadopted until Wednesday night.
The EU — backed by other Western countries as well as several Latin American nations and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) — added an agenda item on the “mitigation work program,” aimed at scaling up emissions cuts worldwide.
That prompted the group of Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) — dominated by emerging economy emitters like China, India and Saudi Arabia — to block the agenda unless rich countries also accepted a new agenda item about climate finance.
“That was a point of principle,” the EU diplomat said. “They want no outside pressure on reducing emissions. China doesn’t want us to be the guiding force.”
Others accused Western countries of wanting to avoid a climate finance debate, in particular one — as demanded by the LMDCs — focused on what rich nations owe the Global South.
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