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Policy Brief on Maximising the Potential Impact of the Global Stocktake under the Paris Climate Agreement


The five-yearly Global Stocktake (GST) plays an essential role in the overall ambition mechanism of the Paris Agreement on climate change by ‘assess[ing] the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of this Agreement and its long-term goals’. While the Katowice climate conference set out the broad parameters for the design and implementation of the GST, it did not provide all the necessary details of how the process will be organised. With the first GST due to start at COP26 in Glasgow, there is an urgent need to identify how the GST could be organised so as to maximise the effectiveness of the process.

This policy brief by Christiane Beuermann and Wolfgang Obergassel from the Wuppertal Institute and Harro van Asselt, Maximilian Häntzschel and Moritz Petersmann from the University of Eastern Finland aims to contribute to this understanding. Recognising the importance and interrelatedness of all three thematic areas of the GST, it focuses on mitigation. Applying the concept of governance functions of international institutions, the policy brief derives the following key recommendations:

  • The collective nature of the Global Stocktake (GST) does not allow for a Party-by-Party discussion of progress and options for the way forward. Nonetheless, the consideration of progress could be disaggregated in other ways to make best use of the rich and comprehensive information collected by breaking it down into manageable pieces. A sectoral approach to the GST would be especially useful in this regard, as sectors constitute the communities of action which climate policy needs to address. Moreover, each sector has distinct opportunities and challenges. Organising the GST to accommodate a sectoral approach would help reveal collective sectoral ambition gaps, highlight additional mitigation potentials and promote knowledge and learning on how to tap into these potentials. Involvement of sectoral ministries would amplify these effects.
  • While the Paris Agreement and the Katowice decision do not provide an explicit entry point for a sectoral approach, it could nevertheless be pursued under several of the broadly formulated ‘guiding questions’ that are supposed to form the basis of the GST.
  • To ensure procedural fairness and boost transparency and accountability, equitable access should be guaranteed for developing country government delegations and different stakeholder groups. Equitable treatment of non-Party stakeholders’ inputs and perspectives includes early communication of time frames and procedures.
  • To strengthen the follow-up of the GST outcomes, GST cycles should culminate in a high-level event at the level of heads of state and government, and an associated COP decision and/or declaration acknowledging the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal, stating collective overall and collective sectoral climate ambition and committing to further action needed. The core of a detailed technical summary of available options, best practices and recommendations could be recommendations for sectoral decarbonisation targets and roadmaps.