6 October 2023

The Global Stocktake: An opportunity to course-correct climate action

When countries signed on to the Paris Agreement in 2015, they made a collective commitment to limit future climate change, build climate resilience, and to transform our financial systems to enable these transitions.

They also baked an accountability mechanism into this same Paris Agreement. Every five years, beginning in 2023, the global community agreed to come together to evaluate progress toward their climate goals and – most importantly – figure out what needs to happen to course-correct in the event we are not on track.

This mechanism, called the Global Stocktake (GST), provides a diagnosis of how the world is collectively progressing toward our climate goals, where we are off-course, and what transformations we need to make to move toward a climate-safe future.

Earlier this month, the UNFCCC marked a milestone for the first GST when it released its technical findings in a major report. The baton now passes to countries to respond to these findings with bold and transformative new political commitments to course-correct for a climate-safe future, during the final stage of this first-ever global stocktake at COP28 in Dubai this December.

These commitments must reflect the scale and speed of transformations that our climate emergency requires. The GST is the principal accountability mechanism within the Paris Agreement architecture and as such, is a stress test for the Paris system. Countries must respond to its findings with a decisive roadmap to course-correct.

The technical findings from the GST have shown that, while there are some areas of hope, we need urgent action to cut emissions, build resilience, and boost climate finance. Some areas for priority action include:

  • Rapidly and equitably scaling up renewable energy while phasing out fossil fuels. There are positive signals here, such as the recent agreement among G20 leaders to pursue efforts to triple renewable energy by 2030. At COP28, leaders across the world must commit to policy commensurate with the reality that a just energy transition is indispensable for safeguarding our future.
  • Fostering climate-resilient, sustainable food systems and agriculture that ensure food security, increase yields, and reduce emissions, while avoiding further land expansion and halting and reversing deforestation, degradation and biodiversity loss. This is doubly important in our warming world, where rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and extreme weather put further stress on already fragile food systems.
  • Urgently bolstering the response to climate impacts by enhancing capacities for adaptation and responding to loss and damage, including through increased and high-quality finance that’s accessible to the most vulnerable populations.
  • Scaling up and shifting finance to enable delivery on these goals, by providing increased, accessible, and efficient public finance; promoting enabling policies in the trade and financial sectors; and holding corporate and financial institutions to account for patterns of production and investment – with developed countries taking the lead in action and support.
  • Committing to strong follow-up from COP28, including through updated Nationally Determined Contributions in 2025 that align with a just transition to a net-zero-emissions world, and reflect the ambition required to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

Philanthropy can help to support a strong Stocktake in both the short and long term. While the first GST concludes this year, follow-up and implementation of new commitments will continue throughout the years ahead – particularly in the next two years, during which countries will be working on codifying commitments into national policy via their next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), due ahead of COP30 in Brazil in 2025. This will require engagement at the national and subnational level as well as continued support at the international level. As part of the ongoing ambition “ratcheting cycle” of the Paris Agreement, we’ll also see a second Stocktake unfold in 2027-2028, a third one five years after that, and so forth.

Support, both financial and political, is needed throughout this ambition and implementation chain that undergirds the Stocktake. Philanthropy can uniquely provide the large-scale, independent support for an advocacy sector that can act as watchdogs to ensure leaders follow through on their commitments, maintaining public and political pressure for urgent climate action. By funding rigorous, independent analysis, philanthropies can underpin the data and analysis needed for current and future Stocktakes to know both where we are and where we need to go. Philanthropy can partner with governments to offer risk-tolerant, patient capital that can support major announcements to build political momentum at key moments such as COP28 and COP30. Finally, philanthropic capital can support organisational capacity-building for climate implementation, particularly in regions where climate action has been under-resourced. Whether it’s existing organisations broadening their climate skill sets or new organisations tackling emerging challenges, good organisations need resources, and philanthropic support can be a critical enabler.

As we approach COP28, the first GST represents a moment of reckoning but also a historic opportunity for change. In this crucial context, philanthropy must help to ensure that this GST serves as a lever for transformation, propelling us closer to a prosperous, green, and resilient future.

Hannah Roeyer acts as lead for the Independent Global Stocktake (iGST), a consortium of more than 20 organizations from around the world working to support a strong Global Stocktake. The iGST, headquartered at ClimateWorks Foundation, engages a network of climate researchers and advocates to undertake research, fill critical data gaps, and push for robust outcomes from this first GST. Learn more about iGST and its work here.

Photo credit – Alisdare Hickson


Hannah Roeyer
Manager, Independent Global Stocktake