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14 June 2024 15:33

DeBriefed 14 June 2024: Bonn climate talks; When Earth could breach 1.5C; How polluter taxes could raise climate funds

Josh Gabbatiss


Josh Gabbatiss

14.06.2024 | 3:33pm
DeBriefedDeBriefed 14 June 2024: Bonn climate talks; When Earth could breach 1.5C; How polluter taxes could raise climate funds

Welcome to Carbon Brief’s DeBriefed. 
An essential guide to the week’s key developments relating to climate change.

This week

Bonn talks wrap up

‘STEEP MOUNTAIN’: As climate negotiations in the German city of Bonn drew to a close on Thursday night, UN climate chief Simon Stiell said that nations had “a very steep mountain to climb” ahead of the COP29 summit in Baku, Azerbaijan, later this year, according to Agence France-Presse.

FINANCE DIVIDE: The talks were marked by “polarised views and sharp disagreements”, the Hindustan Times reported. The divide over climate finance was particularly notable, with countries failing to find common ground, despite the expectation they will come up with a new target “for helping poorer countries cut their emissions and protect their societies in a harsher, hotter world”, Reuters explained.

RAISING AMBITION: In its final daily dispatch from the talks in Bonn, Climate Home News covered an event that saw negotiators from the past, present and future COP presidencies – the UAE, Azerbaijan and Brazil – discuss their efforts to boost the ambition of other countries’ climate plans. All three said they will submit new strategies that are aligned with the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5C, but the article noted that none of them plan to stop producing fossil fuels. Carbon Brief has just published an in-depth article on the key takeaways from Bonn.

Europe goes to the polls

GREEN LOSSES: Losses by Green parties in the European parliamentary elections have “raised concerns” about EU climate policies, the Guardian reported. The Associated Press noted significant Green losses in Germany and France, amid a wider “electoral shift to the right”. Nevertheless, Reuters stated that the EU’s Green Deal package of laws would prove “hard to undo” – a point broadly echoed by experts speaking to Carbon Brief.

UK ELECTION: UK parties began launching their election manifestos. The incumbent Conservatives have drawn criticism for their “pragmatic” net-zero policies, according to the Press Association. By contrast, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to bring the UK’s net-zero goal forward to 2045, BusinessGreen reported. Labour, which polling suggests is likely to form the next government, confirmed its goal to bring forward a target to fully decarbonise the electricity grid from 2035 to 2030, according to Edie. Carbon Brief is tracking where all the parties stand on climate, energy and nature.

Around the world

  • DROUGHT RIOTS: Riots have erupted over water shortages in the drought-stricken Algerian city of Tiaret, according to the Associated Press. It described the fossil-fuel-rich nation as being in “among the world’s worst-hit regions by climate change”.
  • BAN REVERSAL: New Zealand’s right-wing government has announced it will reverse a ban on oil-and-gas exploration brought in by the previous government, Radio New Zealand reported.
  • WET FIRES: A record area of Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands has burned in the first half of 2024, as weak rains have disrupted the usual seasonal flooding, BBC News reported.
  • DIRTY MONEY: Sources have told Reuters that Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members intend to launch a plan to end new private-sector financing for coal projects at the COP29 climate summit. 
  • REJECT YOUR ELDERS: The Swiss parliament has rejected a European Court of Human Rights ruling, which accused the nation of violating the rights of a group of “female climate elders” by enacting weak climate policies, according to the Guardian.
  • TRADE WARS: The EU will impose additional levies on electric cars from China next month, taking tariffs to as high as 48%, Bloomberg said.

$1.1-1.3 trillion

The amount of climate finance developing countries at Bonn want developed countries to provide to them every year, according to Climate Home News.

Latest climate research

  • The extreme rainfall that hit Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran in April and May this year was made twice as likely by El Niño, according to rapid analysis covered by Carbon Brief. The scientists were unable to determine the role of climate change.
  • Nitrous oxide emissions from human activities rose by 40% over the past four decades, partly driven by growing global demand for meat and dairy, according to new research reported on by Carbon Brief.
  • Exposure to high and low temperatures during pregnancy and the early years of a child’s life “may have lasting impacts” on brain development, according to new research in Nature Climate Change.

(For more, see Carbon Brief’s in-depth daily summaries of the top climate news stories on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.)


The world is on track to breach the 1.5C limit in the late 2020s or early 2030s

New Carbon Brief analysis by Dr Zeke Hausfather examined when the world is likely to exceed the 1.5C and 2C limits set out in the Paris Agreement. The chart above shows observed global average temperature from 1850 to 2023 in black, along with a vast array of colours illustrating the wide range of possible futures derived from 37 different climate models. This approach suggests that the world will pass 1.5C around the year 2030, with a range of anywhere from 2028 up to 2036.


Fossil fuels, billionaires and weapons: are taxes the solution to climate finance?

Reporting from the UN climate talks in Bonn, Carbon Brief considers proposals to raise much-needed funds for climate action by taxing everything from fossil fuels to bombs.

Developing countries require trillions of dollars to achieve their climate goals and they want developed countries to foot a large chunk of this bill. But, by the most recent count, climate finance from those nations had reached just $116bn in 2022. 

In the hunt for climate investment, one option gaining momentum is the idea of new taxes. 

Tackling climate change by “making polluters pay” is not a new concept. However, as climate-finance negotiations have stalled at the UN climate talks in Bonn, some provocative ideas have made their way out of NGO reports and into the halls of power.

Tax the rich

Tucked away in the “global stocktake” text that emerged from the COP28 climate summit last year was a reference to “taxation” as an “innovative” source of climate finance.

G20 chair Brazil has taken up this idea, pushing a global “billionaire tax” that could raise around $250bn a year.

Germany and France are among those supporting this tax, arguing it could be a tool to raise climate finance.

COP28 also saw the launch of the International Tax Task Force – a group of countries exploring various levies on fossil fuels, transport and financial transactions. 

Speaking to Carbon Brief in Bonn, one of the initiative’s leaders, Ali Mohamed, who is also the African Group chair, said “it’s important that we look at whatever is possible”, given the crises facing the world. He added:

“We hope just to bring together a group of countries that are willing to experiment.”

Some of these ideas are already being discussed at a high level. In particular, negotiators at the UN International Maritime Organisation are considering a shipping-emissions levy.

Oil and bombs

Ahead of Bonn, Bloomberg reported that Azerbaijan, the host of COP29, was considering a new climate fund filled by taxing oil, gas and coal production. 

Fossil-fuel levies have already been employed in some countries and have been championed by UN secretary-general António Guterres. Nevertheless, Catherine Abreu, executive director of Destination Zero, told Carbon Brief it is “significant” to see such a fund proposed by the oil-producing COP president. But she added:

“So far, what we’ve heard about Azerbaijan’s proposal makes it sound more like an investment or profit-making scheme than a true climate fund.”

(This idea was further dampened in Bonn by a Politico interview with Yalchin Rafiyev, Azerbaijan’s lead negotiator, in which he suggested that their proposal would not only single out fossil fuel companies – and may consist of voluntary contributions.)

Meanwhile, the Arab Group – led by Saudi Arabia – submitted a proposal at Bonn calling for developed countries to provide $441bn in public spending a year.

Saudi negotiator Mohammad Ayoub went into more detail about how they could achieve this goal, suggesting “a tax on defence companies in developed countries”.

The proposal stood out, not least given Saudi Arabia’s status as the world’s second-largest arms importer. Climate Home News revealed that other taxes proposed by the Arab Group would target “luxury” items, such as fashion and technology.

Iskander Erzini Vernoit, director of the Imal Initiative for Climate and Development, told Carbon Brief the proposal was “a response to the constant refrain, which we hear from the US and others, that there supposedly is not sufficient public finance”.

Tax justice

This all comes against a wider backdrop of calls for “tax justice”. To this end, African nations in particular have been fighting for a new UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation. 

“This could potentially lead to global tax measures that might target aviation or international financial transactions,” Teresa Anderson, global climate justice lead at ActionAid, told Carbon Brief. 

Taxation is not generally regarded as a vote-winner. Yet, as wealthy countries face pressure to commit public money to climate action, Cat Pettengell, executive director of Climate Action Network UK, said “fair taxes and ending harmful subsidies are there for the taking”.

Watch, read, listen

‘COOKING AND COUGHING’: An on-the-ground report by the Associated Press examined how women are increasingly turning to burning firewood for food preparation in Kenya.

FIRE ERA: The Bloomberg Zero podcast explored how the 21st century could be “shaped by destructive fire weather”.

CLIMATE GRIEF: The Climate Pod spoke to climate justice writer Mary Annaïse Heglar about her new book, Troubled Waters, covering themes of climate racism and grief.

Coming up

Pick of the jobs

  • UN Climate Summit News, editor (part-time) | Salary: Unknown. Location: Remote
  • Greenpeace International, senior scientist | Salary: £43,116-£49,944. Location: Exeter, UK
  • WWF Malaysia, forestry manager | Salary: RM5,800-RM6,300. Location: Sabah, Malaysia

DeBriefed is edited by Daisy Dunne. Please send any tips or feedback to [email protected].
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