The First Global Stocktake | Briefing

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The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing about the first global stocktake of efforts to address climate change. This stocktaking process, established by the Paris Agreement, aims to assess the world’s collective progress towards the goal of keeping global average temperature rise well below 2°C (3.6°F). For more than a year, government representatives and non-governmental stakeholders from around the world have contributed to this process, which will inform a report that will be released ahead of the international climate negotiations in Dubai (COP28). Panelists discussed the implications of the global stocktake for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and climate adaptation in the United States and abroad and consider how it will inform discussions at COP28.

 

Highlights

  • The Paris Agreement features a five-year cycle intended to increase climate ambition and implementation. The global stocktake (GST) serves as the accountability engine of this cycle by evaluating countries’ collective progress towards the Paris Agreement goals and supporting any necessary course corrections.
  • According to the annual Emissions Gap Report, global greenhouse gas emissions are still increasing, but climate policies have proven to be effective in reducing emissions at specific country or regional levels. Projections of the climate policies in 2015 estimated that emissions in 2030 would be 16 percent higher than in 2015, but that increase has since been reduced to three percent after the adoption of the Paris Agreement.
  • The technical summary of the GST indicates that new NDCs need to reduce global emissions by 43 percent by 2030, 60 percent by 2035, down to net zero by 2050.
  • On climate adaptation, the technical summary states that, while progress has been made on adaptation since the Paris Agreement, most observed adaptation efforts have been fragmented, poorly distributed, and do not keep up with climate disasters.

 

Kathy Castor, U.S. Representative (D-Fla.)

  • The first global stocktake (GST) is expected to drive conversations at COP28. The GST technical summary indicates that countries are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals. This includes the goal to aim to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F), which is the threshold beyond which scientists say humans would feel the worst impacts of climate change.

  • The planet has already warmed by 1.2°C (2.2°F) and is expected to continue warming as greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. COP28 provides a critical opportunity for countries to agree to lower these emissions and address their impacts through action and accountability.

  • While addressing climate change can feel daunting, we have already improved our warming trajectory because of trends like the falling cost of renewable energy. Investments like those in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) (L. 117-169) inspire action on a global level and make meaningful progress in addressing climate change.

 

Hannah Roeyer, Lead, independent Global Stocktake (iGST), Climateworks Foundation

  • The independent Global Stocktake (iGST) is a worldwide civil society network that collaborates on research and advocacy to support the Paris Agreement global stocktake process.

  • The GST is designed to evaluate the world’s progress towards the Paris Agreement’s main goals on mitigation, adaptation, and finance, along with related efforts on loss and damage and response measures.

  • The Paris Agreement features a five-year cycle, known as the ratchet mechanism, intended to increase climate ambition and implementation. The GST serves as the accountability engine of this cycle by evaluating countries’ collective progress towards the Paris Agreement goals and supporting course corrections, if necessary.

  • The findings from the GST are meant to inform countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs). This year’s GST will inform NDCs that will be re-submitted in 2025 and layout countries’ national climate action plans through 2035.

  • The GST is designed as a multiphase process with technical and political components that are both backward-looking and forward-looking.

  • At COP28, the GST will be the flagship agenda item spanning all thematic areas.

  • The technical report of the GST found that the Paris Agreement is working but is still off track across all three major goals. The report also found that Paris Agreement parties (i.e., countries and economic groups that are members of the treaty) and non-party stakeholders must pivot towards implementation with a bigger focus on credible data and accountability, while keeping in mind just transitions and economic diversification.

  • The iGST is asking for a clear follow-through plan of any commitments coming out of COP28, including tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, catalyzing adequate adaptation responses, fostering sustainable food system transformations, scaling up finance, and improving accountability for countries and non-state actions. However, even just agreeing on high-level signals at COP28 would support further policy making on international and national levels.

 

Anne Olhoff, International Senior Advisor, CONCITO; Chief Scientific Editor of the Emissions Gap Report, U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • The U.N. Environment Programme’s (UNEP) annual Emissions Gap Report provides an overview of the difference between what countries’ climate pledges are estimated to achieve versus what they need to achieve to have a likely chance of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2°C (3.6°F).

  • UNEP’s annual Adaptation Gap Report analyzes the planning, financing, and implementation of plans that are designed to increase resilience, reduce vulnerability, and increase adaptive capacity.

  • These reports are released annually in advance of the U.N. climate negotiations to inform discussions. They are forward-looking to bridge the gaps in greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation planning.

  • This year’s Emissions Gap Report, Broken Record – Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again), found that total global greenhouse gas emissions set a new record in 2022.

  • The report also found that countries have made negligible progress on their NDCs since COP27, with only nine countries submitting new or updated NDCs.

  • The projected emissions gap in 2030 still remains high and will continue to grow until 2035 without strengthened action and ambition now.

  • In order to stay on a path to keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F), the next round of NDCs due by COP30 in 2025 needs to collectively cut 29 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent off of the current unconditional NDC pledges (i.e., the country pledges not contingent on international climate finance). This is more than half of current annual global greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The emissions gap is becoming unbridgeable as time goes on. If climate efforts continue at the level implied by current policies, global warming will only be limited by 3°C (5.4°F) over the course of this century.

  • Relentlessly strengthening implementation in this decade is critical to narrowing the emissions gap in 2030. Stronger implementation will also help to facilitate more ambitious targets for 2035 and help enhance the credibility and feasibility of net-zero pledges.

  • Emissions are still increasing, but climate policies have proven to be effective in reducing emissions at specific country or regional levels. Projections of the climate policies in 2015 estimated that emissions in 2030 would be 16 percent higher than in 2015, but that increase has since been reduced to three percent after the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

  • Based on the predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions levels implied by current NDCs, limiting warming to 2°C (3.6°F) would be a significant challenge and limiting warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) would be impossible.

 

Nathan Hultman, Founder and Director, Center for Global Sustainability; Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

  • The United States is in the best position it has ever been to affect meaningful change on climate mitigation on a national and global scale.

  • The GST technical report states several key mitigation findings, including:

    • Global emissions are not in line with the 1.5°C (2.7°F) goal.

    • New NDCs need to reduce global emissions by 43 percent by 2030, 60 percent by 2035, down to net zero by 2050.

    • Reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions will require system transformations across all sectors, scaling up renewable energy, phasing out unabated fossil fuel use, ending deforestation, and implementing supply and demand side measures.

    • Just transitions can support more robust and equitable mitigation outcomes.

    • Economic diversification is a key strategy for addressing the impacts of response measures (i.e., the negative economic impacts of reducing emissions on fossil fuel-producing countries).

  • Increasing ambition at COP28 is essential to keeping emissions reductions on track to meet net zero by 2050.

  • Implications for the United States from the GST outcome at COP28 include:

    • The IRA and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (L. 117-58), along with other significant subnational actions, put the United States on track to reduce emission by 40 percent by 2030. But, a combination of additional federal regulations and subnational actions is needed to achieve the U.S. goal of reaching 50 percent emissions reductions in 2030.

    • The recent United States-China Sunnylands Statement is evidence of the efficacy of key collaboration with other countries.

    • Countries are required to submit updated NDCs with 2035 targets by 2025.

    • More attention is needed on climate finance.

 

Jeffrey Qi, Policy Advisor I, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

  • Climate adaptation is about protecting people, communities, economies, and biodiversity in a changing climate. It starts with identifying the risks associated with climate change and coming up with solutions to respond to those risks.

  • According to the GST, adaptation actions must be evaluated on their adequacy and effectiveness. They should also be reviewed in the context of achieving the global goal on adaptation.

  • The GST technical report states that significant progress has been made on adaptation since the Paris Agreement, citing that 84 percent of countries have at least one adaptation policy instrument. However, most observed adaptation efforts have been fragmented, poorly distributed, and do not keep up with climate disasters.

  • Some ecosystems have already reached the hard limit of adaptation, meaning that the ecosystem has no other options to respond to climate change (e.g., a wetland that has migrated inland because of sea level rise is abutting homes and will not be able to move any further).

  • The window to securing a livable future is closing. There is an urgent need to increase the speed and scale of climate finance for adaptation. The majority of funding is still being allocated to mitigation. It is critical that the private sector contributes.

  • Developing countries, who would benefit most from adaptation efforts, have high barriers to accessing the support they need. Greater international collaboration is required to allocate climate finance and build capacity in developing countries.

  • Climate data needs to be accessible to subnational governments. Local communities also need access to downscaled data for risk assessment and adaptation planning.

  • Inclusive planning is needed for ensuring that the benefits of adaptation are felt by all people.

  • The U.S. Fifth National Climate Assessment concluded that, while some states are taking more steps to address climate change than others, the impacts are being felt across the country. It is essential that decision makers create a more resilient and just nation that can withstand the shifting climate.

 

Q&A

 

Q. How were the federal government and other U.S. stakeholders involved in the GST process over the last couple of years?

 Roeyer

  • The United States has been very involved.

  • The chief scientist for climate change at the Department of State, Farhan Akhtar, was one of the two co-facilitators of the technical dialogue period of the GST.

  • A lot of other U.S. stakeholders were also involved in the technical period of the GST process.

 Olhoff

  • In general, there has been a lot of engagement and involvement from different stakeholders, including non-state and private sector stakeholders.

 Hultman

 Qi

  • There have also been more informal talks over the course of the technical dialogues between GST negotiators from around the world focused on sharing lessons and best practices they have learned, which helped to make the overall process more informative.

 

Q. How could progress on the GST affect other COP28 agenda items?

 Roeyer

  • By design, there will certainly be interplay between the GST and other agenda items during COP28.

  • Something like “fossil fuel phaseout” could land in the GST text itself. The GST’s technical assessment found that oil and gas expansion is no longer feasible to keep emission reductions on track.

  • The onus is on the negotiators to use the lessons and findings from the GST’s technical assessment to inform the final GST negotiated text.

 Olhoff

  • There is an expectation that text coming out of COP28 will be broadened to cover all fossil fuels rather than just coal, as is covered in the outcomes from COP27. One way the phaseout could be mentioned in the text is through linking it to other targets, like doubling energy efficiency and tripling renewable energy by 2030.

 

Q. What does the GST process look like going forward after COP28? How can people follow or track the outcomes from the GST after COP28?

Hultman

  • After COP28, the big focus will be on NDC construction over the next two years. The results from the GST are designed to feed into the NDC cycle.

  • There will be a lull in the formal process of the GST, but, informally, a stocktake happens every year through efforts like the Emissions Gap Report and the Adaptation Gap Report. 

Qi

  • COP28 must have discussions and decisions on how countries should follow up on the key findings of the GST through their NDCs and other climate policy instruments.

  • The conclusion of this GST should also provide a signal for the next GST on what needs to be improved and what needs to be done to prepare for the next GST to start in 2026 and conclude in 2027.

 

Compiled by Laura Gries and Maggie Christianson and edited for clarity and length. This is not a transcript.

 

 

 

To keep up with happenings relevant to Congress during COP28, sign up for EESI’s COP28 Dispatch newsletter at eesi.org/signup

 

The briefings in this series are:   

Congress and International Climate Finance

What’s on the Table for the Negotiations? 

The First Global Stocktake


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