What is the Global Stocktake? Cop28 to assess world's progress on climate change

UAE will oversee first global report card on implementation of Paris Agreement

The world agreed in 2015 to try to limit global warming in order to rein in catastrophic effects such as flooding and drought. AFP
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Eight years ago, the world agreed in Paris to try to slow down global warming. At Cop28 in Dubai, it will mark its homework for the first time.

The report card, known as the Global Stocktake (GST), will be a key outcome of the climate change summit beginning in the UAE on Thursday.

Although the final text will be agreed by almost 200 countries in Dubai, its main message is already clear: we are not doing enough.

It will also include recommendations for what the world can do to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, the key Paris Agreement goal.

The onus will then be on leaders to take the key lessons from the stocktake and apply them to their green policies back home.

With the next stocktake not due until 2028, the Dubai summit is regarded as a key chance to “course correct” before it is too late.

Why is the Global Stocktake happening now?

Article 14 of the 2015 Paris Agreement says the world will “undertake its first global stocktake in 2023 and every five years thereafter unless otherwise decided”.

The eight-year interval to 2023 was chosen to “give a long enough timeline for the implementation to come through”, said Sir David King, a former British negotiator who worked on the Paris Agreement.

Each country is responsible for setting its own policies to contribute to the 1.5°C goal, so the stocktake was set up as a way to review overall progress.

The agreement says: “The outcome of the global stocktake shall inform parties in updating and enhancing, in a nationally determined manner, their actions and support in accordance with the relevant provisions of this agreement, as well as in enhancing international co-operation for climate action.”

The UAE’s Cop28 presidency has told diplomats that the stocktake “will frame all of our work” at the summit.

What will the Global Stocktake say?

We have some idea already because a technical report underpinning the stocktake was published by the UN in September.

Drawing on preliminary discussions among countries attending Cop28, the 47-page report says the world is “not on track” for 1.5°C.

The good news is that the Paris Agreement has “driven near-universal climate action” in the past eight years, it says.

The bad news is that “much more is needed now on all fronts”, including urgent moves before 2030 to slash greenhouse gas emissions – one reason why the 2023 stocktake is regarded as so critical.

The report also contains specific calls to action on scaling up renewable energy, ending deforestation, finding more money and other issues.

These, though, are merely the technical findings. It is up to the policymakers at Cop28, where the stocktake enters its final “political phase”, to decide what to make of them.

What will happen at Cop28?

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the President-designate of Cop28 and UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, has called for the world to issue a “robust response” to the stocktake and the gaps it identifies.

Exactly what this response looks like will be a matter for discussion at Cop28, including on the opening two days when heads of state and government are in Dubai.

The idea of a negotiated text adopted by all 195 parties, urging countries to act on what the stocktake says, has widespread support in principle.

There are also suggestions for a separate political declaration encouraging non-state actors to contribute to tackling climate change.

Most countries have expressed support for a mixture of “backward-looking” assessment of progress and “forward-looking” calls to action.

However, some of the wording, for example on fossil fuels and finance, is likely to be closely fought over.

Updated: November 30, 2023, 11:56 AM