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What have we learned from the first Global Stocktake? New project deliverable


The most recent assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the need for “[r]apid and far-reaching transitions across all sectors and systems” in order to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. However, actual efforts by parties are still much weaker than necessary to actually achieve the Paris objectives.
The first Global Stocktake (GST) under the Agreement was seen by many as a major opportunity for a “course correction”. This deliverable therefore analyses what potential the GST actually had to promote transitions of sectors and systems and to what extent the actual GST outcome actually realised this potential.

To this end, the deliverable first draws on concepts from literature on socio-technical transitions and from literature on international institutions to develop a conceptual framework for how an international process such as the GST may promote transitions of sectors and systems. The deliverable then applies this framework to synthesise suggestions from literature on the GST and from submissions by parties and non-party stakeholders to the GST process on how the first GST could potentially have promoted transitions of sectors and systems. On this basis, the deliverable discusses to what extent the actual GST outcome actually exploits this potential. A key aspect is that, based on socio-technical transitions literature, policy strategies should seek not only to promote the emergence of low-emission solutions but also need to explicitly put pressure on incumbent high-emission regimes in order to actually achieve substantial emission reductions.

Against this background, it can be seen as a major success that the GST outcome became the first COP decision ever to call for transitioning away from fossil fuels. The GST outcome also introduced objectives for the expansion of renewable energy and improvement of energy efficiency, which if met, would go a long way towards bringing the world onto a Paris-compliant trajectory. However, the legal language is relatively weak and the GST failed to establish clear follow- up processes and to underpin these new global goals with provision of adequate financial support for countries with limited resources.

Nonetheless, the GST decision establishes a new standard for responsible climate governance, empowering stakeholders who advocate for greater climate action within their governments or corporations. Moreover, from a conceptual perspective, adopting a focus on systems and sectors has arguably proven its worth as a concept to break the challenge of combating climate change down into more specific and actionable pieces. Subsequent GSTs will be able to further develop the focus on transitions of sectoral systems by taking stock of the extent to which the lines of action adopted in Dubai have actually been pursued, and to further flesh out the needed actions in more detail.

For more information, read the full deliverable on our website.