UN’s Inaugural Global Stocktake Unveils Urgent Climate Action Roadmap

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UN’s Inaugural Global Stocktake Unveils Urgent Climate Action Roadmap

Around 200 countries will meet for the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, COP 28, from 30 November to 12 December in Dubai, UAE.

This year’s conference will feature the United Nation’s first-ever “global stocktake”, wherein countries will assess their progress since the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels. The World Economic Forum notes that the report will shape the discussion at the conference and potentially help clarify how much more countries must do for true action.

According to the UNFCCC, the global stocktake is like taking inventory and looking at everything related to where the world stands on climate action and support, identifying the gaps, and working together to chart a better course forward to accelerate climate action. The stocktake occurs every five years, the first of which is on this year’s COP28.

On 8 September, the much anticipated and the UN’s first stock take report was released. Vox reports that the technical document aims to spur action and bluntly assess how much countries need to do “on all fronts”.

Countries have a big task ahead. Keeping the Paris Agreement alive means governments must slash global emissions by 43% by 2030 and further by 60% by 2035 compared with 2019 levels and reach net zero emissions by 2050 globally. They can do this by “setting the direction for the next phase of climate policymaking”, European Climate Foundation CEO Laurence Tubiana says.

The choice of words in the report is also essential to note. For instance, it is now using the term “phase out” when it refers to fossil fuels, a phrase some countries fought hard not to use and prefer “energy transition”, as it leaves room for more fossil fuel investments.

One of the key findings of the report makes it clear– achieving net zero CO2 and GHG emissions requires systems transformations across all sectors and contexts, including scaling up renewable energy while phasing out all unabated fossil fuels, ending deforestation, reducing non-CO2 emissions and implementing both supply- and demand-side measures.

The Vox article notes that the term “unabated” emissions will likely be a debatable topic during the conference but explains that the language leaves room for remaining fossil fuels to rely on technology like carbon capture and storage.

The report contains four critical messages aimed to inform and accelerate climate action:

  • Reduce GHG emissions, especially methane – a shorter-lived but many times more powerful warming gas than CO2. The report notes that there are low-cost and profitable solutions to reduce methane emissions, mainly in the oil and gas industry.
  • Accelerate the transition to clean energy. The first global stocktake report highlights the need to phase out all unabated fossil fuels. However, it will only be successful when coupled with the rapid uptake and deployment of renewable energy and smart finance.
  • Increase climate adaptation efforts, particularly for those who are least prepared for change and unable to recover from disasters.
  • Invest in natural climate solutions or nature-based solutions as it has the power to address both climate change and biodiversity loss. Conserving nature and ecosystems can act as powerful carbon sinks.

Scaling up these climate solutions and technologies requires the deployment of finance.

The report concludes that the technologies that already exist “need to be rapidly deployed, together with accelerated innovation, development, and transfer of new technologies, to support the needs of developing countries.”  

Read the first Global Stocktake report.


Why the Global Stocktake is a Critical Moment for Climate Action. (n.d.) United Nations Climate Change. Retrieved from https://unfccc.int/topics/global-stocktake/about-the-global-stocktake/why-the-global-stocktake-is-a-critical-moment-for-climate-action

Leber, R. & Irfan, U. (2023 September 9). The world’s brutal climate change report card, explained. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/climate/23864312/climate-change-stocktake-cop28-dubai

Global stocktake report and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week. (2023, 12 September). World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/09/global-stocktake-warming-nature-and-climate-stories/

Hoffmaister, J. (2023 September 29). Global Stocktake report highlights opportunities for ambitious climate action. Environmental Defence Fund. Retrieved from https://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2023/09/29/global-stocktake-report-highlights-opportunities-for-ambitious-climate-action/

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