Source: ‘Critical’ Global Stocktake counting down to help keep Paris promises Author: Met Office Press Office
The current decade is a critical decade for climate action. What we do now will be a deciding factor in whether we can constrain global temperature rise to 1.5°C or below.
The urgency is clear, but what keeps the ambition on track? Answer: the Global Stocktake, often referred to as the GST.
In our post we focus on just two aspects of the broad reach of the Global Stocktake:
- Mitigation – where the world tries to reduce the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases
- Adaptation – where governments and communities strive to adapt to the levels of climate change impact which are already dialled in to the climate system through previous or ongoing greenhouse gas emissions
What is the Global Stocktake?
The GST – first mentioned as part of the Paris Agreement in 2015 – is designed to support the implementation of the Paris agreement. It encourages information gathering and dialogue between countries and experts.
Dr Camilla Mathison is a Met Office expert on carbon budgets. She said: “The two-year process – which is repeated every five years – is crucial for enhancing and galvanizing collective ambition toward the long-terms goals of the Paris Agreement.
“Without this process there would be few other ways for the world to track progress towards long-term climate goals as well as ensure it keeps the promises it made seven years ago.”
Dr Laila Gohar is a Met Office climate scientist specialising in climate mitigation. She said: “The first Global Stocktake is due to report at the next global climate summit in Dubai later this year. Previous stages in the stocktake have shown the world is not on track on climate action.
“While there has been an observed slowing in the increase in emissions, we have not yet seen greenhouse gas emissions reduce.”
Emissions reduction urgency
Dr Mathison added: “The cumulative release of greenhouse gas emissions since 1850 has been unevenly distributed both across nations and stages of development.
“Humanity is now burning through the remaining carbon budget at a rapid rate, but historical emissions need to inform the future for just transitions to be achieved.”
Dr Laila Gohar concluded: “We need international cooperation and coordinated efforts to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. We need to see the peak of global greenhouse gas emissions before 2025 followed by reductions by 2030 or 2040.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “The culmination of the Global Stocktake this year is crucial for demonstrating that we are holding ourselves to account on pledges made under the Paris Agreement. Its outcome should include commitments from countries to enhance their current targets, set ambitious new ones, and implement tangible climate solutions”
What needs to happen next?
Reducing methane emissions in conjunction with carbon-dioxide will help to keep the peak warming as low as possible. But as Camilla Mathison explains: “All mitigation pathways need to include some element of physical removal of carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere; but this should be in addition to deep and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Some solutions, such as decarbonizing the energy sector, are already available and cost-effective. But progress will depend on regional circumstances and which sectors are the major emitters of greenhouse gases in each country.”
Mitigation alone is not enough
People around the world are already experiencing severe climate impacts, such as flooding and drought, that can be attributed to human-induced climate change. Some adaptation measures, from bolstering sea defences to upgrading water supply networks, are already being implemented to shield communities from some of the worst climate change impacts.
Dr Freya Garry is a Met Office climate scientist specialising in climate impacts and providing information for decision making around climate adaptation. Freya said “The scale of future climate adaptation will depend on the mitigation pathway humanity takes. Without rapid and ambitious mitigation the world will experience increasingly frequent and severe climate impacts, and added climate adaptation measures will be needed.”
The recently-released synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights many climate policies around the world considering adaptation measures. However, these measures are not yet widely implemented, partly due to limited finance. The IPCC says with sufficient support, adaptation measures can build resilience to climate risks and deliver broader benefits to society.
Freya adds: “There is a wide range of possible adaptation measures. Rapid mitigation – together with adaptation action where needed – can reduce the risk of damage to lives, homes and communities.
“However, some climate impacts will continue to grow in severity. For example, sea level will continue to rise for centuries in every mitigation pathway, because of the melting of land-based ice and because ocean warming lags behind atmospheric warming.
“If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced rapidly, more and more places will reach limits on adaptation with communities unable to avoid climate change, leading to irreversible changes such as the loss of coastal or small island communities.”
The Global Stocktake at COP28
The output from the Global Stocktake will be presented at COP28 in November 2023. This will include: lessons learned; how to overcome barriers and challenges to climate action; and the development of solutions.
Encouraging countries to update and strengthen their climate action pledges (known as Nationally Determined Contributions) is a key aim of the GST.
In addition, it should also inspire increasing international cooperation for climate action, including:
- and providing means of support, through capacity-building, finance and technology.