In the aftermath of the first global stocktake at COP28 in Dubai last year, which concluded that the world is not on track to achieving the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, the Parties to the Paris Agreement meet again at SB60, where they will be tasked with progressing negotiations to scale up climate change action. SB60 – also known as the Bonn Climate Change Conference – is taking place from 3-13 June 2024 at the home of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany. It is an intersessional meeting that brings together member states, observers and stakeholders to discuss and negotiate climate-related matters. The aim of SB60 is to build upon decisions from COP28 and prepare recommendations for COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November.

In this article, we provide an overview of SB60 and highlight the key issues on the negotiation agenda over the coming two weeks. 

What is SB60?

SB60 marks the 60th session of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB) under the UNFCCC, comprising the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). These bodies are instrumental in advancing the UNFCC's objectives by undertaking important preparatory work for the annual Convention of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP). The outcomes of SB60 will feed directly into the next COP meeting, providing important inputs for decision-making and action on climate change at the global level.

Meeting biannually in June and then alongside each COP session, the SB meetings provide essential insights into the UNFCCC's goals. SBSTA links scientific findings, including those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with policy needs, while SBI oversees the implementation of the UNFCCC (along with the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement). Together, SBSTA and SBI address shared challenges, offering a comprehensive approach to tackling climate issues covering the technical, scientific and implementation aspects of climate change mitigation, adaptation, finance and capacity-building.

The work undertaken at SB60 will lay the groundwork for an efficient and successful COP29. The COP29 Presidency will be in attendance, hosting informal consultations with stakeholders to inform the work programme and key outcomes sought at COP29, and is expected to announce a comprehensive action plan for COP29 at the conclusion of the SB60 negotiations. 

We set out below the key issues for the industry to follow over the next two weeks.

Carbon markets and Article 6 

Article 6 will once again be high on the agenda at SB60, following the failure of the Parties at COP28 to adopt texts to progress the implementation of international carbon markets under Articles 6.2 and 6.4 of the Paris Agreement. Articles 6.2 and 6.4 provide the mechanism for trading emissions reductions between countries under the umbrella of the UNFCCC framework and are key to scaling up efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, as well as delivering finance to developing countries. 

Despite the lack of progress on Article 6.2 at COP28, this has not deterred countries from continuing to engage in Article 6.2 cooperative approaches, with 84 bilateral agreements between 10 different buyers and 46 different host countries entered into as of 1 May 2024. However, the absence of a decision on Article 6.2 at COP28 left a degree of uncertainty on transparency, reporting and authorisation processes. Authorisation has been the key Article 6.2 issue in recent years, in particular, whether authorisations can later be revoked by host countries. The framework for an international registry is also yet to be decided. 

In Article 6.4, the absence of agreement on methodologies at COP28 (with significant misalignment between different negotiating groups on appropriate methodological principles and definitions for eligible activities) has delayed the operation of the centralised UNFCCC crediting mechanism. Throughout this year, the Article 6.4 Supervisory Body has sought to achieve alignment on methodologies, with the Methodological Expert Panel working to develop methodological requirements, determine the appropriate parameters for removal activities, and identify the Clean Development Mechanism methodologies prioritised for transitioning to the Article 6.4 mechanism. Stakeholder input at SB60 will inform the continued development of these procedures.

An informal note published by the SBSTA Chair sets out the spotlight issues at SB60, recognising the substantial number of issues to be addressed in the limited time available. The note indicates that authorisation and issues regarding registries will be the focus of negotiations at SB60 and includes draft decision texts on the agreed electronic format for Article 6.2 for notifying the UNFCCC of authorised Article 6.2 activities. On Article 6.4, a draft decision text sets out the proposed elements of Article 6.4 that require further work to inform a decision text at COP29, highlighting authorisation, registry issues, the eligibility of emissions avoidance and conservation enhancement activities, and national arrangements for implementing Article 6.4.

The SBSTA Chair invites Parties to express views on other issues as well as to provide inputs on the draft decision texts. The goal for SB60 in respect of Article 6.2 and Article 6.4 is to overcome the current barriers to progress to ensure full operationalisation in Baku.

Lima Work Programme on gender

In 2014, COP20 established the Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG) to integrate gender considerations into climate policy and action. The first Gender Action Plan (GAP) was created at COP23 and at COP25 a 5-year enhanced LWPG and GAP were agreed upon. The enhanced GAP focuses on five priority areas to promote gender-responsive climate action and ensure women's full participation. These areas include capacity building, gender balance, coherence, implementation and monitoring. 

The final review of the enhanced LWPG and GAP will commence at SB60, with the process concluding at SBI61 in November. This review will focus on the progress made, as well as identifying challenges, gaps and further priorities and work in respect of GAP.

Climate finance

Global finance goals

Another area to watch closely will be progress on establishing a new global finance goal, referred to as the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG). A new NCQG must be decided at COP29 and SB60 will host various technical expert dialogues to consider the key elements of the new NCQG. 

The previous NCQG, to mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020, was not met until 2022 and relies on the ambition of developed country Parties to enhance global action on climate change. If ambitious enough, the new NCQG will set in motion the transformation needed to mobilise and deliver on finance flows from developed to developing countries in a way that addresses actual needs. Transparency and accountability of Party contributions to any NCQG will be front of mind. 

Loss and damage

Finance for loss and damage is another emerging area that will be in the spotlight at SB60, particularly following the agreement on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28. The Loss and Damage Fund is intended to address and respond to the economic and non-economic impacts of climate change for developing countries particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as low-lying island nations.

SB60 will host the third and final Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage, which was established at COP26 to enable Parties, relevant organisations and stakeholders to discuss the arrangements for the funding of activities to avert, minimise and address loss and damage associated with the adverse impacts of climate change. The dialogue at SB60 will focus on enhancing coherence and coordination of loss and damage support and the role of the funding arrangements in this context, as well as provide an opportunity for technical discussions on progress made and on next steps, namely scaling up or enhancing existing, or developing new, funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage.

We note that there are several things that need to happen before the Loss and Damage Fund can be fully operational and deliver finance to counties in need. This includes the procedural arrangements for the Loss and Damage Fund, which need to be drafted by the Standing Committee on Finance this year and adopted at COP29.

The role of the private sector in financing loss and damage responses will likely be an area of focus during the Glasgow Dialogue negotiations. A synthesis report released in May 2023 highlights limitations in existing funding arrangements in delivering finance for loss and damage, including with respect to accessing concessional financing for vulnerable countries. These have sparked debate about the adequacy of the international financial system, which the Bridgetown Agenda, established in 2022 and updated in April 2023, seeks to address. The Bridgetown Agenda proposes reforms to enhance the global financial response to crises, focusing on restructuring debt repayment after disasters, mobilising $1 trillion for climate resilience, establishing a Global Climate Mitigation Trust and widening eligibility for concessional lending.

We expect that funding for loss and damage will also be considered as part of the new NCQG.

Increasing linkages between the Technology Mechanism and the Finance Mechanism

The UNFCCC urges developed countries to promote, facilitate and finance the transfer of climate technologies to developing nations. To support this, the Financial Mechanism was established to provide resources to developing countries, managed by existing international entities such as the Global Environment Facility since 1994.

Separately, the Technology Mechanism, consisting of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) was established at COP16 in 2010, aiming to accelerate climate technology development and transfer. Since then, COP27 welcomed technology funding from the Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility, calling for enhanced collaboration between the Technology and Financial Mechanisms. 

Importantly, the TEC and CTCN are to organise an in-session workshop during SB60 to assess linkages between the mechanisms, based on submitted views, aiming to enhance their coordination and effectiveness, and ultimately to deliver increased finance to technological advancements in order to provide mitigation and adaptation outcomes.

We will be tracking developments in respect of each of these topics and will provide a further update after the negotiations.