As we mark World Environment Day, those working in the climate sector are keeping one eye on the Bonn Climate Change Conference.

The talks are designed to tee up COP28 in Dubai later this year and are “critical for shaping meaningful, pragmatic and impactful outcomes” in the UAE, in the words of Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the COP28 host.

The negotiations will be technical in nature and will cover a range of topics, not least the money which is desperately needed by those countries already suffering the worst impacts of climate change.

Oxfam today released a report updating on the commitment made back in 2009 by developed countries, who promised to mobilise $100 billion every year, by 2020 to help less wealthy countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. The OECD said the target was missed that year by some $17 billion. Oxfam says it’s even worse than it looks – only $21-$24.5 billion of that money could be considered “real support”, with much of the money being offered as loans some other funding streams being opaque at best.

This issue is critical because it speaks to what is currently lacking but is desperately needed in global climate talks – trust.

Whatever the result from Bonn – and whether there’s progress on finance – the message will no doubt be clear: the world remains far off track and needs to alter course before it’s too late.

It’s easy to be negative about what feels like an endless series of climate negotiations. We’re nearly at the 28th COP and climate change is by any measure getting worse – have any of these talkfests really achieved anything? To answer that we’d need to consider the counter-factual: If the UN climate change meetings had never happened, would we be any worse off? I’d firmly argue that yes, we would be.

Despite everything, the emissions curve does look like it’s slowing. The IEA reported in March that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose by just 1% in 2022, despite a global energy crisis. That’s a dramatic slowdown. It might well be that the energy crisis has itself spurred the energy transition away from fossil fuels – the corresponding acceleration in the uptake of renewable energy sources, says think tank Ember, means it’s likely that 2022 marked a “turning point” at which fossil fuel electricity generation peaked.

Despite controversies around carbon offsets and the framework of voluntary carbon markets, there is money being channelled into preserving and protecting forests; restoring mangrove swamps; and sustainable agriculture.

And despite a continued appetite for drilling for more oil and gas, there are moves in many countries to at least partly mitigate the impact by reducing emissions through supply chains, and pressure too on oil and gas companies to accelerate moves into the clean energy sector.

These are only three examples of many strands of work. None of them are perfect, but they are arguably trending (far too slowly) in the right direction. However, to be successful, global consensus is needed and to reach consensus, trust between parties is all-important. It will as so often come down to the money – Dr Al Jaber has his work cut out.