What is the Global Stocktake?
The Global Stocktake (GST) is a comprehensive assessment of the world’s progress on climate action. Anchored in Article 14 of the Paris Agreement, it is intended to inform Parties to the Agreement on their progress against its goals, including but not limited to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
What does the Global Stocktake measure?
The GST evaluates progress against the three long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, listed under Article 2:
- Drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperature rise below 2°C and ideally 1.5°C (Article 2.1.a)
- Build resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate impacts (Article 2.1.b)
- Secure finance and support for low-carbon and climate-resilient development (Article 2.1.c).
The GST also assesses collective progress on additional cross-cutting issues in the Paris Agreement. An example is loss and damage, for which additional finance is needed, particularly in developing countries, to address the impacts of climate change that cannot be averted by mitigation or adaptation efforts.
Who carries out and oversees the GST?
Overall responsibility to conduct the GST lies with the ‘Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement’ (the CMA), which is the governing body that oversees the implementation of the Paris Agreement and consists of the representatives of country signatories. The CMA meets once a year at the sessions of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
However, the most significant part of the work required to complete the GST is carried out by supporting groups within the UNFCCC. Of particular importance are the two Subsidiary Bodies (SBs). The SB for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) focuses on the data gathering and technical components of the GST. The SB for Implementation (SBI) provides vital assistance to the final implementation phase. Together, the Chairs of the SBSTA and SBI form a Joint Contact Group that supports two co-facilitators of the technical dialogue with guiding questions.
How does the GST work?
In 2015, the Paris Agreement prescribed that the first GST would take place in 2023, and then every five years. The process takes two years and comprises data gathering, technical and political phases:
- The ‘information collection and preparation’ phase gathers and summarises information in preparation for the technical component. Key sources include the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6) and the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Adaptation Gap Report. A non-exhaustive list of sources and information used is provided in a 2018 addendum to the Paris Agreement, and further sources were agreed by the SBs before the start of the first GST. The information and collection preparation phase of the first GST concluded with the publication of four synthesis reports on: the state of greenhouse gas emissions; the state of adaptation efforts; the overall effect of nationally determined contributions (NDCs); and finance flows.
- Through the technical assessment, Parties and non-Party stakeholders – such as experts, NGOs and civil society, industry representatives and coalitions – contribute, discuss and add further sources and information to be considered in the GST. Several calls for submissions were released for the first GST, resulting in nearly 900 inputs from Party and non-Party stakeholders. The technical assessment process is facilitated by technical dialogues and in-person workshops.
- The political phase involves the ‘Consideration of Outputs’ at the COP sessions, where the implications of the findings are presented to Parties, who discuss them at three high-level events. Countries will collectively agree on key political messages, which will formalise the commitments that all countries need to adopt to meet the Paris goals.
When the first GST has been completed, a two-year process to 2025 will begin, during which countries will be required to update their NDCs. The same will then happen after each round of the GST.
What are the findings of the first Global Stocktake?
In September 2023, the co-facilitators of the GST published a synthesis report of the preliminary results of the technical dialogue. It lists 17 key findings, most of which show that global progress on climate action to date is insufficient, and that “much more is needed on all fronts” to meet the three long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.
Key findings from the synthesis report on progress towards each of the three main goals can be summarised as follows:
- Mitigation goal: The report highlights an estimated ‘emissions gap’ of 20.3–23.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (38–45% of global annual emissions): this is the difference between where emissions are heading under current NDCs and where emissions should be by 2030 for the world to be on track with a 1.5°C pathway. Closing this gap requires Parties to adopt more ambitious mitigation targets in their updated NDCs, including phasing out all unabated fossil fuels and ending deforestation. The report also identifies new cost-effective opportunities to cut emissions, such as green industrialisation, which will also contribute to other development goals such as poverty reduction. Just transition and equity considerations are highlighted, such as implementing collective and participatory decision-making processes to reduce the disruptive consequences for jobs and communities of transitioning away from fossil fuels.
- Adaptation goal: The report highlights the rapidly closing window of opportunity to avert, minimise and address the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems. While an increase in ambition is observed in the report, it describes most adaptation action and support as “fragmented, incremental, sector-specific and unequally distributed across regions”. The report calls on Parties to enhance transparency when reporting on adaptation efforts and to ensure that action is driven by local contexts and populations, especially traditionally marginalised groups such as women, youth and Indigenous Peoples. It highlights the need to rapidly scale up finance for adaptation, including arrangements for addressing loss and damage.
- Implementation and finance: The report shows that despite increases in climate finance from developed to developing countries, shortfalls remain in the mobilisation and provision of such finance. It calls for transformation of the global financial system, which can be achieved by strategically deploying international public finance to support climate action in developing countries. It also highlights the need for simplified access to international climate funds and the creation of more enabling conditions by mitigating financial risks, to lower investment costs and create more investable products. Accelerated technology transfer is identified as a key means of implementation.
What does the GST mean for future climate action?
The GST is very important for monitoring global progress on climate change mitigation and adaptation, which translates into implications for countries that are signatories to the Paris Agreement. After the findings of the GST are presented at COP, countries must confer on how to respond by agreeing and delivering the ’political outcome’ of the GST. Some next steps have already been identified. Countries are expected to update and increase the ambition of their NDCs until 2025, and submit their first ‘biennial transparency report’ (BTR1), which will help track progress. The GST is thus crucial to the so-called ‘ratcheting up’ mechanism that is a key part of the process for meeting the Paris Agreement goals.
This Explainer was written by Joseph Feyertag.