COPPolicy and Affairs

Cop28 to test the first Global Stocktake, the collective budget on climate action

Al summit of Dubai is held the last passage, political, of the first Global Stocktake

During the Cop28 in Dubai (30 November – 12 December) we will hear a lot about the first Global Stocktake. An expression for insiders, but one of the most important issues at this year’s climate summit. What is it? Why is it an important step for global climate action? What will states talk about during negotiations in the Emirates?

What does First Global Stocktake mean?

Literally, Global Stocktake means “global budget” and refers to progress in action against the climate crisis. This is a process established by the Paris Agreement (under Article 14) that must be carried out regularly, every 5 years. It serves to collectively monitor the progress made in the last five years, evaluate the results obtained in relation to the indications of climate science, and establish, again collectively and by consensus, the course adjustments necessary to comply with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Concretely, in the last 2 years the member states of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which organizes and manages the negotiation process of the Cop, together with some non-State bodies (supranational or research bodies), have deposited their assessments on the progress made so far. The UNFCCC then screened this material and produced a technical report, published in September, in which it took stock of state suggestions to recalibrate climate action and added recommendations based on climate science.

The last step in the process of the first Global Stocktake is purely political and will take place at COP28: states must find an agreement on what will be the cornerstones of climate action in the coming years.

What does the UNFCCC write in the technical report on Global Stocktake?

The first Global Stocktake will start from the technical report of the UNFCCC. In which there are very clear indications. The UN body writes that we are out of the way on all fronts not to exceed 1.5 degrees. In addition to reiterating that global emissions must fall by 43% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, the document specifies that cuts must reach -60% in 2035. The potential expressed by the commitments formally made by the states, today, leads us to a trajectory of 2.4-2.6°C, while if we count the long-term commitments (which are however little concrete, therefore not very credible) we would arrive at 1.7-2.1°C.
Very important are the indications provided by the UNFCCC in the first Global Stocktake on how to increase climate ambition. A crucial point is to include, in the voluntary national contributions to be made by states to the UN body at least every five years, targets expressed in terms of absolute reductions in emissions instead of, as many do, in terms of reducing the emissive intensity compared to GDP. That would make real cuts.

Then there are some suggestions for new global goals to straighten the way. The three most important are at the heart of the negotiations in Dubai. The aim is to double the world’s energy efficiency, triple the installed capacity of renewable energy globally, and to find an agreement on the phase-out of all fossil fuels. This last point, as we have explained in a deepening, is very controversial and represents the main obstacle to overcome in Dubai. Finally, the technical report stresses the importance of injecting ambition into the new global target on the adaptation and operation of the Loss and Damage Mechanism, both still under discussion at COP28.

The key issues in the negotiations

In addition to setting these targets, the discussion in Dubai on the first Global Stocktake will also focus on certain points and principles to be included in the text of the final decision. Even on them, the positions of the states vary a lot and there are opportunities for friction.

What is perhaps most obvious is the call on the part of the global South to introduce clear references to the principle of equity and to that of common but differentiated responsibilities. In this way, a first step is being taken to justify the demand that, proportionately, it is the developed countries – as the major culprits of the climate crisis – that increase climate ambition sooner and more, while the transition of developing countries would proceed at a slower pace.

Some countries and negotiating groups would like to establish a verification mechanism to identify those who do not comply with commitments on climate action, others call for the introduction of global indicators to comply with the 1,5 degrees, still, others to consider the social and economic costs related to the fight against the climate crisis (another way to get to ask for common but differentiated responsibilities: it is the priority of countries such as China and Russia).

There is instead on the table a request from many developed countries, the United States in the lead, that all major emitters present voluntary national contributions aligned to 1.5 degrees by 2030: a move to force even China, the world’s leading polluter, to do its part (and slow the economic rise). The background to these last negotiating nodes is the diatribe on how to calculate the responsibilities of states. The West’s preferred way is to look at current emissions, while the global South (and China) want to consider historical emissions, from 1850 onwards: so their weight in aggravating the climate crisis is reduced.

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