The Paris Agreement: A focus on the Global Stocktake

by Leonie Schiedek

Since several international reports concluded that the Parties are falling short of delivering their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement [1,2], there is a strong need to frequently assess their implementation and re-evaluate the targets to raise the ambition level. The Paris Agreement under Article 14 (section of the agreement) outlines an evaluation process known as the Global Stocktake (GST) [3]. 

What is the Global Stocktake (GST)? 

In order to mutually inform the Parties of the Paris Agreement about the progress of the NDCs, it was agreed to periodically take stock of their implementation [3]. This so-called GST will assess in a comprehensive and facilitative manner the collective advance, gaps and challenges in mitigation, adaptation and the means of implementation and support, taking into account current science and the aspect of equity. By conducting this assessment, the NDCs should be updated and the goals as well as international cooperation for climate action may be enhanced. The first GST is planned to be undertaken in 2023 and then at five-yearly intervals, unless otherwise decided by the Conference of the Parties (COP) [3].

An important condition for informing the GST is the implementation of the Enhanced Transparency Framework referred to in Article 13 of the Paris Agreement. The Global Stocktake merges (analyses and summarises) the results of the transparency mechanism [4]. Several other international reports also inform the international community about current progress on reaching the goals defined in the Paris Agreement. These include, for instance, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report [1], or the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report [2]. 

The process of the Global Stocktake

The Global Stocktake will be conducted in three phases, agreed on during COP24, (see figure 1) [5]: 

  1. Phase 1: Information collection and preparation (GST-ICP)

In this phase, all information that will lay the foundation for the stocktake, for instance, the NDCs, scientific work (e.g. IPCC Assessments), or country reports will be collected and merged into several synthesis reports under the Paris Agreement’s transparency framework. These reports serve to inform the technical assessment. 

  1. Phase 2: Technical assessment (GST-TA)

This phase involves several technical dialogues that are conducted during two or three consecutive United Nations climate conferences. The goal is to assess the collective progress towards the Paris Agreement and its goals in the areas of mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation and support. Furthermore, other, cross-cutting issues, for example, response measures, are taken into account. Finally, a factual summary report of all three areas is produced by the co-facilitators of the dialogue. In fact, the technical assessment can overlap with phase 1.

  1. Phase 3: Consideration of outputs (GST-CO)

The findings of the technical assessment will be presented and discussed during the COP in the year of the stocktake itself. In the end, key political messages are formulated and opportunities for enhancing support and action presented.

All these procedural and logistical elements are yet to be refined, whenever the countries decide to do so. 

Figure 1: Timeline process for the first global stocktake in 2023 [5].

The Governance of the GST

The GST will be governed at four levels including several different stakeholders (see table 1).

Table 1: The government levels of the GST [6]

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA)– has the overall responsibility to conduct the GST.
The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) & Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI)– together hold the mandate to assist the CMA in conducting the global stocktake. This applies especially to the technical assessment and is conducted through a Joint Contact Group
The technical assessment / dialogue– will be a focused, transparent and facilitative process in which Parties can engage and discuss with constituted bodies and forums, as well as other institutional arrangements that serve under the Paris Agreement and/or the Convention. Also, experts are invited to consider inputs and assess the collective progress. 
– will be facilitated by two co-facilitators (each needs to be from a developing and developed country) that will guide the dialogue by questions that are developed by the SBSTA and SBI Chairs on each thematic area as well as for cross-cutting issues.
A High-Level Committee (consists of the CMA Presidencies and the Chairs of the SBSTA and SBI)– will be the chair of the high level events of the GST-CO.

The independent Global Stocktake

Apart from the official Global Stocktake, there is also an “Independent Global Stocktake” (iGST) formed in 2018, which consists of a variety of civil society actors that collaborate to support the Global Stocktake [7]. This includes a diverse community from analysts, to campaigners or advocates that aim at going beyond the Global Stocktake to gain maximum positive impact. They provide data and analysis, increase the accuracy, transparency, accountability, and formulate expectations to the Global Stocktake to enhance the relevance of the official benchmarking process. The secretariat is based at the ClimateWorks Foundation [8] while each of all four workstreams of the initiative are led by  two co-chairs.

Reference List:

[1] UNEP (2020). Emissions Gap Report. URL:  https://www.unep.org/emissions-gap-report-2020 [Last accessed: 05.06.2021] 
[2] UNEP (2020). Adaptation Gap Report. URL: https://www.unep.org/resources/adaptation-gap-report-2020 [Last accessed: 05.06.2021] 
[3] United Nations (2015). ‘Paris Agreement’. https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf [Last accessed: 03.06.2021] 
[4] UNFCCC (2018). Action taken by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. Decision PA/CMA/2018/3/Add.2. https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/CMA2018_03a02E.pdf [Last accessed: 04.06.2021] 
[5] WRI (n.d.). Global Stocktake. URL: https://www.wri.org/paris-rulebook/global-stocktake [Last accessed: 04.06.2021] 
[6] UNFCCC (2021). Global Stocktake. URL: https://unfccc.int/topics/science/workstreams/global-stocktake#eq-2 [Last accessed: 07.06.2021] 
[7] ClimateWorks (2021). Independent Global Stocktake. URL: https://www.climateworks.org/independent-global-stocktake/ [Last accessed: 04.06.2021] 
[8] ClimateWorks (n.d.). ClimateWorks Foundation. URL: https://www.climateworks.org/ [Last accessed: 04.06.2021]
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