The Global Stocktake is an assessment of the progress made on climate change mitigation since the Paris Agreement in 2015. The results of the first GST will be discussed during the Conference of Parties (COP) 28 at the end of 2023 (UNFCCC, 2023).

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is an annual meeting where countries unite to make climate action plans. This year’s meeting – from November 30 to December 12, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates – includes the first-ever Global Stocktake, a comprehensive assessment of progress since the 2015 Paris Agreement. The GST is a process scheduled every five years.

The Conference of Parties (COP) serves as the meeting of high-level countries under the Paris Agreement through decision No. 19/CMA.1, deciding to consider an output component consisting of High-Level Events where findings and implications are discussed and considered by stakeholders (UNFCCC, 2023).

What is the basis of the Global Stocktake?

The GST, established under Article 14 of the Paris Agreement, aims to assess collective progress towards achieving the goals of the Agreement and its long-term objectives in a comprehensive and facilitative manner, taking into account mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation and support with due regard for equity and science.

How does the Global Stocktake work?

The first GST started in 2022 and was discussed at COP28. Subsequent GSTs will take place in 2028, 2033, and beyond. The GST aims to coordinate climate action efforts, including steps to bridge ongoing gaps (Mc Kinsey, 2023).

The GST calls for a system transformation that follows a whole-of-society approach and mainstreams climate resilience and development that is harmonized and low in greenhouse gas emissions. Such efforts should be sustained over decades, supporting sustainable development and poverty eradication.

The GST also points to the growing gap between developing countries’ needs and support and the disbursement and reuse of trillions of dollars for climate action and climate-resilient development (UNFCCC, 2023).

Why is the Global Stocktake Important?

According to a Mc Kinsey report, a preliminary look at the findings from the global survey shows that the worldwide community needs to be on track to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. The ultimate goal is to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius while striving to stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius (McKinsey, 2023).

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries must measure their progress this year and five years later. Based on the results, countries should be ready to set more ambitious climate policies or contribute more funding to help developing countries adopt clean energy (Reuters, 2023).

The GST is taking place in a climate-critical decade. A UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report suggests that greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and decline by 43% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The IPCC warns that exceeding the 1.5-degree centigrade threshold risks more severe climate change impacts.

In this case, it is not decision-making that is the deciding factor but the global response of countries as parties to the Paris Agreement that must make a difference in the form of ambitious policies and accelerated action.

Many countries must set short-term policies ambitious enough to steer their economies towards emissions targets in 2030 and 2050. Global average temperatures have warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, leading to widespread droughts and frequent heatwaves, wildfires, and storms worldwide (Reuters, 2023).

Summary of the Global Stocktake Discussion by the High Level Committee at the COP 28 High-Level Event

Three agendas at the high-level event addressed Adaptation, Implementation, and Mitigation held on December 1-2, 2023, led by the GST High-Level Committee (HLC). 29 Heads of State and Government, 21 Ministers, 10 dignitaries, 3 UN system organizations, and 8 Civil Society Organizations intervened.

The leaders emphasized that the world is facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change. The Paris Agreement has catalyzed global climate action by government and non-government stakeholders, with positive progress in achieving its goals. There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift, taking a holistic approach to successfully tackling climate change that accelerates ambition, action, and support across the agenda.

Leaders emphasized the importance of a comprehensive, transformational, multisectoral, and whole-of-society response to climate action, ensuring a fair and equitable transition, leaving no one behind, and aligning with sustainable development and poverty eradication efforts. Leaders highlighted the importance of gender-responsive policies, ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans and mountains, and the protection of biodiversity.

What aspects of climate does the Global Stocktake address?

As reflected in the science, there is an urgent need to put the world on track to achieve deep, rapid, and sustainable reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. The transition must be fair, equitable, and quick, including decarbonizing industry using all available technologies, decarbonizing transport, and ending deforestation.

A just energy transition, focusing on tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030 with adequate implementation, will also significantly contribute to achieving the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal.

There is an urgent need to strengthen adaptation actions at scale to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience, recognizing that climate change is already impacting lives and livelihoods around the world, especially in developing countries and vulnerable communities.

The adaptation funding gap, estimated to range from USD 194-366 billion per year, must be urgently addressed. Doubling adaptation funding by 2025 is a step in the right direction. However, the overall scale of adaptation funding must be dramatically increased through increased access to grants and very concessional adaptation funding for all developing countries. Other means of implementation, particularly technology transfer and capacity building, are crucial to increasing resilience and leaving no one behind.

There is only climate action with implementation. A step change is needed to mobilize climate finance to meet the scale required to deliver on the Paris Agreement. This requires an increase in the scale and quality of concessional finance and a broader shift in public and private financial flows, in line with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

The international financial system, including its governance, must be fit for purpose. A reformed international financial scheme can be critical to support investments in climate action and sustainable development globally. Debt reform should be central to financial discussions, including specific initiatives, to avoid worsening the debt burden in many developing countries (UNFCCC, COP28, 2023).

Author: Chitra Regina Apris