John Leo Algo

Published: February 7, 2023

The global stocktake (GST) is a key component of global climate action. It is a process that assesses the implementation of the Paris Agreement and determines whether the world is collectively making enough progress to achieve long-term goals, including limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The GST is currently scheduled to end at COP28 in Dubai, UAE. It comes at a critical time, especially after recent COPs failed to enhance global policies and national pledges needed to adequately slow down global warming and, consequently, the climate crisis.

For the past few years, the first two stages of the stocktake, on information collection and preparation and technical assessment, have been ongoing, where government officials, climate experts, and non-state actors have been engaging in technical dialogues, workshops, and other spaces to present their data, case studies, challenges, and lessons learned on mitigation, adaptation, finance, and other workstreams of climate action.

What the technical dialogues have shown so far is a bag of mixed results. While these spaces have been inclusive and facilitative, with increased awareness and understanding of best practices and solutions among the global community, participants largely determined an uneven and slow progress in reaching many of the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Relative to more contentious issues like loss and damage and mitigation, decisions related to the GST passed more easily at COP27. However, the presence of the fossil fuel industry was reportedly strong within the dialogues, which in some ways undermined the progress of this process. It is no coincide that the Sharm el-Sheikh climate negotiations also fell way short of the needed commitments to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The world must learn from previous failures to scale up climate solutions through previous mechanisms. For example, while the Talanoa Dialogue (a precursor to the GST) was initiated to inform Parties on enhancing their Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020, the actual outcomes did not result in sufficiently higher ambition and action.

As the road to the Dubai climate negotiations continues, both Parties and non-Party stakeholders alike must take the necessary actions to ensure that the outputs of the GST would truly enable stakeholders to accelerate global climate action, aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Taking stock

For the third component of the GST, the consideration of its outputs, to be impactful, stakeholders must conduct activities consistent with the core principles and goals of the UNFCCC. These principles include upholding equity and justice (i.e., common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities), adaptability to evolving needs and gaps, and accountability and transparency for the entire process.

It is important that the interlinkages between the GST and ongoing work programmes must be recognized prior to COP28. The relevant outputs of said processes, including on mitigation and determining a new collective finance goal, should feed into the stocktaking process to ensure as comprehensive and integrated of an approach as possible.

One such interlinkage is on loss and damage (L&D), an issue which featured the most significant outcome from COP27 through the establishment of a funding facility to address issues under it. However, L&D is not explicitly included in the scope of the GST when the Paris Agreement was first adopted. Aligned with the need for a more flexible process, considering the GST outputs needs to account for L&D and other evolving issues that pose tremendous climate risks, especially to the most vulnerable communities.

Other interlinkages do not necessarily have to be strictly under the scope of the mandate of the UNFCCC. The notion of recognizing the climate crisis as simply another environmental issue has long passed. In recognition of this global threat’s all-encompassing impacts, the GST outputs must be accounted for within the wider global climate and development context, including the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. With elements of the Paris Agreement being integrated more into other international governance frameworks, more opportunities emerge to enhance global actions that cascade more effectively down to national and local levels.

Ultimately, the GST outputs has to be presented as a detailed list of opportunities and actions for resolving current gaps, building on existing multilateral initiatives such as the Marrakech Partnership and the Breakthrough Agenda. How policymakers present these outputs is crucial, as it would set a precedent for future submissions and engagements of Parties and other stakeholders in succeeding stocktakes.
What must not be lost in the process or taken for granted by policymakers is that the GST must remain inclusive and facilitative, prioritizing the inclusion of the most vulnerable communities. As decided at COP27, more spaces need to be created across all governance levels to collect and meaningfully integrate the inputs of non-government stakeholders into the process. Other UNFCCC events such as the Regional Climate Weeks should also be utilized to maximize said inclusion for the remainder of the process.

It is impossible to properly address the climate crisis without understanding it in as detailed of a lens as possible, engaging with those affected by its worst impacts, and keeping stakeholders that knowingly continue to worsen the problem as part of the decision-making process.

At COP28, world leaders must find the right approach to consider the outputs of the GST. With our world still headed towards more catastrophic climate change, there is no more room for mistakes.

John Leo is the Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Campaigns of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines and a member of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas and the Youth Advisory Group for Environmental and Climate Justice under the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific. He is a climate and environment journalist since 2016.