3 considerations for climate negotiators as they close out the first Global Stocktake

This post was co-authored by Julia Ilhardt, High Meadows Fellow for Global Climate Cooperation at Environmental Defense Fund. 

Flags of the world. Getty.

The first Global Stocktake – a process designed to assess collective progress toward the Paris Agreement’s goals on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance – is rapidly nearing its official conclusion at COP28.

With nearly a full year of discussions completed, the process is shifting from a technical exercise to a political one. The outcome must spur ambition in the upcoming round of national climate plans, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), due to the UN climate agency in 2025.

A successful outcome of the first Global Stocktake will point countries to opportunities for climate action that will put the world on track to meet the Paris goals.

What has the Global Stocktake told us so far?
The vast amount of technical information and literature submitted for consideration since the start of the Global Stocktake underscores what we already know. Despite progress in recent years, we’re not on track to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. On mitigation, for example, countries must step up the ambition of their NDCs and implement the commitments they’ve already made.

The literature also reminds us, however, that we have a wide range of tools available to tackle the climate crisis. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that we could reduce emissions by at least half by 2030 with solutions that cost no more than $100 per ton of CO2e. And half of these solutions actually cost less than $20 per ton of CO2e.

Opportunities for action are available across all sectors and greenhouse gases. As countries begin work on their updated climate plans, they must make use of these tools and learn from each other’s experiences.

The next round of NDCs is due to the UNFCCC in two short years, and we now have fewer than seven years left in this critical decade. The Global Stocktake should provide a springboard for action.

The political phase of the Global Stocktake is about generating outputs that help them do just that. Though negotiators have yet to decide on the final form the outputs will take, the products will summarize opportunities, challenges, lessons learned, and good practices for implementing climate solutions.

To ensure a successful first Global Stocktake, here are three things negotiators should keep in mind as the process enters its final phase:

1. The Global Stocktake must deliver clear signals on high impact opportunities to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.

The Global Stocktake can help distill clear signals from the volume of information available to decisionmakers and identify high impact solutions around which to drive momentum and cooperation, especially in this critical decade. It can also offer collective milestones—informed by the systemwide transformations required to limit warming to well below 2C—on the road to net zero.

Negotiators could, for example, build on growing momentum to reduce methane emissions, the climate solution with the largest potential for avoiding warming in the short term. Readily available methods to reduce methane can deliver 0.25°C of avoided temperature rise by 2050. It’s the fastest way to slow the rate of warming in the near term. The oil and gas sector offers the largest share of low-cost reduction opportunities.

Speaking to countries and a wide range of stakeholders, the Global Stocktake outcome could encourage all countries to include methane targets and policies in their national climate plans, prompt oil and gas companies to report their methane emissions using the UN oil and gas framework, OGMP2.0, and recognize and enact plans to achieve collective targets, such the Global Methane Pledge.

Other high-impact solutions include:

  • Scaling up deployment of renewable energy in the electricity sector (and phasing out fossil fuels). A clean, affordable, and reliable power sector is a prerequisite for the decarbonization of the transport, industry, and buildings sectors.
  • Electrifying land-based transportation. Electric vehicles offer the largest decarbonization potential for land-based transport, if they are powered by clean electricity.
  • Protecting, managing, and restoring forests and other ecosystems. Protecting, managing, and restoring ecosystems could reduce emissions and/or sequester 7.3 GtCO2e per year.

Countries have the opportunity during the Global Stocktake to capitalize on momentum around a discrete number of high-impact solutions to highlight key milestones, and then work together—hand in hand with a wide range of public and private stakeholders—to make them a reality.

2. The Global Stocktake outputs should include a technical resource that leverages the vast amount of information gathered throughout the process.

A technical resource that leverages the vast amount of information submitted to the Global Stocktake could provide actionable insights on the deployment of solutions, including by summarizing the good practices and lessons learned that countries and other stakeholders have shared over the last two years.

On methane, for example, a technical resource could point to information of greatest interest to implementors. This includes the Global Methane Hub’s efforts to support catalytic investments, the International Energy Agency’s Global Methane Tracker, and submissions to the Global Stocktake process, such as EDF’s paper on policy instrument options for addressing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

3. The Global Stocktake must inform action in 2024 and 2025.

When designing the final outputs of the Global Stocktake, negotiators must keep in mind the purpose of the exercise—to inform enhanced climate action and international cooperation. The next round of NDCs is due to the UNFCCC in two short years, and we now have fewer than seven years left in this critical decade. The Global Stocktake should provide a springboard for action.

Governments, CEOs, researchers, and other stakeholders should leave COP28 with specific and actionable insights on the next steps they can take to achieve collective milestones recognized by the Global Stocktake. The Global Stocktake could then catalyze action within and beyond the UNFCCC.

In many ways, the Global Stocktake outcome will be the start of a global conversation, rather than the end. The world must be ready to react.

This entry was posted in Energy, International, Paris Agreement, United Nations. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.