COP28: What is the Global Stocktake?

Posted on December, 04 2023

The UN climate talks - COP28 - are taking place in Dubai

The Global Stocktake (GST) is the first "report card" on the efforts by countries around the world to address the climate crisis.

This assessment about how well countries are doing will contain few surprises: it is already widely known that we are way off track to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, the goal of the Paris Agreement.

Not enough is being done to address the cause of climate change (greenhouse gas emissions). And not enough is being done to prepare for the impacts of climate change, which are already here and are predicted to get worse in the future. 
This assessment will be especially damning for richer countries who have the money to take action, and can take advantage of opportunities like the new jobs and clean industries which will benefit their citizens.

These countries are not providing enough money to those in need, so poorer countries cannot afford to take their own steps to address climate change, nor to access similar economic opportunities.

This is exacerbating poverty and is unfair because these countries are the least responsible for the climate crisis in the first place.

What will be new, and vitally important, is what countries decide to do to address all of these gaps.

The head of UN Climate Change calls this a "course correction". This means that countries will need to improve their climate action plans and speed up their roll-out.

Underpinning this is the need for countries to accept that the largest contributor to the climate crisis is our reliance on fossil fuels.

We need to phase them out, and move towards a future powered by more sustainable, efficient, renewable energy. 

We won’t know what this course correction will look like until the climate talks in Dubai wrap up - but this will be a crucial litmus test for success for this year’s climate negotiations.

Progress and course correction

We know we are not on track to meet our internationally agreed climate goals.

Report after report shows us that the average global temperature rise is set to exceed 2°C – dangerously above the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement and a threshold to avoid the worst impacts for people and nature.

That makes the agreement’s Global Stocktake so important. It not only represents a report card that shows us where we are, it also provides a critical opportunity to course correct, and build a foundation for more ambitious action in the years to come.

At COP28, the Global Stocktake is the first of what will be a five-yearly cycle of assessing our progress in achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

In 2021, the Global Stocktake process kicked off with a phase of collecting information, followed by a series of "technical dialogues", which concluded in June this year.

The resulting report bringing together all this contained few surprises. It found that the Paris Agreement has “driven near universal climate action”, but that much more effort is needed, included on “systems transformation” to ensure we are more resilient to a warming world anc can continue to grow our economies without further growth in emissions.

This takes us to the stocktake’s next phase. At COP28, governments will consider the findings and, hopefully, produce a political decision supported with technical guidance.

At a minimum, this political declaration should clearly identify the gaps in where we need stronger goals and more on-the-ground action to achieve these goals.

It should set out where we need to be in terms of reducing emissions and adapting to a warming world.

This includes addressing the losses and damages already being faced by vulnerable countries as climate impacts become more severe, and providing finance, capacity building and technology to support poorer countries.

It also needs to offer guidance and ways to help countries improve their existing climate action plans and produce new ones that are equal to the crisis we face.

These plans must put the world on a pathway to limit warming to 1.5°C of warming and outline exactly how this will be done.

The declaration must also provide clarity on the financing and support that will be needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals.

It should provide the basis for a global climate finance target that delivers at least US$600 billion over 2020-2025, after which donor countries should expect to scale up their funding, in line with expected needs.

Undoubtedly, we face serious political challenges in agreeing an ambitious declaration on the Global Stocktake at the COP28 climate talks.

We know what needs to be done. Now we need to make it happen.

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