COP29 Preview: Kazakh Ecology Ministry Shares Goals and Expectations at Bonn UN Climate Meetings

BONN — Climate financing, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, Kazakhstan’s part in the global methane pledge, and loss and damage fund were among the key topics discussed by the Kazakh Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources during the June United Nations (UN) Climate Meetings, which took place on June 3-13 in Bonn, Germany.

This year’s June UN Climate Meetings, also known as the 60th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. Photo credit: Lucia Vasquez Tumi/UN Climate Change

June UN Climate Meetings opening

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, in his opening speech on June 3, highlighted that finance is “the great enabler of climate action.”

“Here in Bonn, I urge you to move from zero-draft to real options for a new collective quantified goal on climate finance. (…) We need more climate finance while we negotiate a future goal. Progress on one, enables the other,” he said.

Stiell envisioned that the world would suffer much worse consequences from global warming if no urgent measures were taken.

“Without UN-convened international cooperation, we would be headed for up to five degrees of global heating, which most of humanity likely couldn’t survive. We are now headed for around 2.7 degrees. This is still ruinously high, and there’s a long and steep road ahead to get to our shared goal of 1.5 this century, but we should be energized that we are approaching a halfway point,” said Stiell.

COP29 expectations

Azerbaijan will take over the 29th Conference of Parties (COP29) presidency from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in November. Climate financing is expected to be the key focus of COP29.

Saule Sabieva, director of the Climate Policy Department of Kazakh Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Photo credit: The Astana Times

Saule Sabieva, director of the Climate Policy Department of Kazakh Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, highlighted the need to address the global financial system to fit the purposes of climate transition.

“The first issue on the agenda is climate finance. It’s one of the main topics is how to achieve climate finance on the way to achieving 1.5 degrees Celsius reduction in global warming. There is also the issue of the mitigation work program, which is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sabieva.

“The expectation from COP29 is certainly to reach a consensus on climate finance. How are we going to achieve those efforts on climate solutions and commitments made to achieve carbon neutrality in general,” she added.

Alongside addressing the financial goals, COP29 in Azerbaijan has significance for Kazakhstan because it is convened in the region of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

“If we talk about regional affiliation, we are in the same region, accordingly, we expect significant achievements from COP29. Especially regional cooperation on issues of water basins, water resources, and issues of Caspian sea pollution monitoring. We expect joint regional solutions in terms of achieving a green economy, such as the development of the green finance market, and the development of green taxonomy, which gives the opportunity to attract the attention of investors to our region for the purpose of achieving green projects,” said Sabieva.

Kazakhstan’s CO2 emissions

A key message at Dubai’s COP28 last year was that the world needs to triple its renewable energy capacity and halve global carbon emissions by 2030 to keep the global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Sabieva referenced the latest carbon emissions inventory, revealing that Kazakhstan emitted 340 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“We have been submitting reports to the secretariat for the last two years. Our starting point was 385 million tons of CO2 in 1990. By 2030, we must reach 320 million tons, which means a further reduction of 20 million tons,” she said.

The goal is ambitious, yet with gradual steps, it could be achievable. One of the key outcomes of the Climate Meetings in Bonn was entering a memorandum with South Korea.

“We concluded a memorandum with the [South] Korean side yesterday, within the framework of the visit of the Korean President to Kazakhstan, on the implementation of low-carbon and climate-related projects. The Korean government will put its investments in that sphere, and we from our side as well, but the credit will be exclusively in the commitment of the two countries,” said Sabieva.

Can Kazakhstan count on loss and damage fund?

Last year, in a historic move, COP28 in Dubai adopted a fund for responding to loss and damage. Developed countries most responsible for the climate emergency have pledged to provide funds to support developing countries already experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change. With France, Germany, Italy and the UAE each pledging $100 million or more, the total amount of the fund exceeded $600 million.

A hard-won victory by developing countries has raised hopes that countries like Kazakhstan will be compensated for the consequences of climate change.

“We have made very good progress here,” said Sabieva. “At the COP in Dubai, we celebrated a significant achievement: Kazakhstan has joined the board of the loss and damage fund as an alternate member. Now that the loss and damage fund has been established, the defining process of its procedures, how it will operate, how allocations will be determined, how it will be financed, and the overall funding amount is being discussed.”

More progress was made on the loss and damage agenda during the first meeting of the fund’s board in Abu Dhabi last month, with the adoption of the board’s work plan for 2024 and organizational documents.

“In the future, no doubt, Kazakhstan has a goal and a task to defend our and the region’s position and interests to attract funding from the loss and damage fund, given the fact that we are faced with climatic consequences, such as floods. Unfortunately, this year showed that Kazakhstan and the region of Central Asia is vulnerable to climatic consequences,” said Sabieva.

In the spring, devastating floods in Kazakhstan forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

Kazakhstan’s steps to reduce methane emissions

During COP28, Kazakhstan has also joined the Global Methane Pledge, aiming for a 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030

“A national program to reduce methane emissions by sector is currently being developed, with a particular focus on reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas sector,” said Sabieva.

“We are now collaborating with international partners and donors. At COP28, we concluded a joint statement between the special representatives of Kazakhstan and the United States, committing to reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. Accordingly, we have developed a roadmap to meet these methane reduction commitments. We plan to present our national program to reduce methane emissions at COP29 and continue our contributions in this area,” she added.

The oil and gas and agricultural sectors are major contributors to methane emissions in Kazakhstan, accounting for around 40% and 38% of emissions, respectively. The ministry is developing project proposals to attract investment into technology that will monitor methane emissions.

Concluding Climate Meetings in Bonn

The talks in Bonn ended on a not-so-positive note that progress is needed on the path to COP29 with too many issues unresolved and too many items still on the table. Yet, Stiell acknowledged some moderate steps forward. 

We are taking steps forward towards adaptation indicators that are forward-looking, effective, and scientifically sound. We made some progress towards a better functioning international carbon market, but still have a way to go to get this over the line. We worked together for transparency and supported each other in planning stronger NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions). But we have left ourselves with a vast amount to do between now and the end of the COP,” said Stiell.

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