One of the most technical but most important aspects of international negotiations at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai was reportedly bogging down this week, after the COP28 secretariat published a 24-page document on the Global Stocktake (GST) that did little or nothing to guide countries toward a set of action items they could agree on.
“The first Global Stocktake will make or break 1.5°C,” headlines the Wednesday morning edition of ECO, the daily COP newsletter produced by Climate Action Network-International.
“Countries have gone into this process well aware of the gaps between what is needed and what is being done” in their national climate plans, “knowing how the shortfalls are compromising our global agreement and causing climate devastation around the world,” ECO writes. “But simply restating this well-known dismal reality is insufficient to meet the intended purpose of the GST.”
The Global Stocktake has been going on for two years. It’s a plodding but essential part of the international climate process, mandating countries to report back on their progress toward the emission reduction and climate adaptation goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
When the UN issued its Global Stocktake report in early September, the New York Times described it as a “first official report card” on the Paris deal. The unsurprising conclusion: Eight years and countless climate disasters since Paris, there’s been some halting progress, but not nearly enough.
“While action is proceeding, much more is needed now on all fronts,” the Stocktake’s two co-facilitators wrote, after a two-year slog that had them hosting 252 hours of dialogue and synthesizing more than 170,000 pages of technical input. “Against forecasts made prior to its adoption, the Paris Agreement has led to contributions that significantly reduce forecasts of future warming, yet the world is not on track to meet the long-term goals” that would deliver the best odds of stabilizing the global climate.
Now, as discussion in Dubai turns to next steps coming out of the Stocktake, observers are “very concerned how far Parties are from a consensus,” ECO writes, even though countries should already have begun forming a new round of tougher climate targets that address their fair share of the problem. “Developed countries must also provide the means of implementation that will likewise enable developing countries to lift up ambition” in their own climate plans, ECO adds.
Over the next week, it will be up to COP28 negotiators to adopt a Global Stocktake report that sets expectations for countries to “ratchet up” their climate commitments—an essential goal under the Paris Agreement—in 2025. Observers on the ground in Dubai are looking for a final consensus text that:
• Connects the Stocktake to expert analysis and ongoing negotiations on emission reductions and climate adaptation;
• Acknowledges “the reality of losses and damages already burdening developing countries” and the “hundreds of billions of dollars, not to mention the lives, livelihoods, and other non-economic loss” already overwhelming the most vulnerable countries on the front lines of the climate crisis, per ECO’s Tuesday morning’s edition [pdf];
• Spells out the duty of historical emitters—the countries, beginning with the United States, that have produced the most climate pollution dating back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution—to lead on loss and damage finance;
• Puts debt relief and human rights at the centre of international climate finance discussions;
• Calls for a phaseout of fossil fuels, as more than 100 countries represented at the COP have already done.
So far, observers say, the draft statement:
• Echoes the call earlier in the conference to triple global renewable energy capacity and double the pace of energy efficiency improvements through 2030;
• Allows for a “mid-term” phaseout of fossil fuel subsidies, a largely ineffective promise first taken onboard by the G20 in 1999;
• Opens up a menu of options on carbon capture and storage and hydrogen as emission abatement options;
• Urges a more robust approach to international climate finance, with more emphasis on grants and less on loans;
• Lays out different options for final language on a coal or fossil fuel phaseout, setting the stage for debate and negotiation over the last week of the COP.