Stocktaking the calamity: On climate crisis and the U.N. Global Stocktake report

The world needs genuine breakthroughs in climate talks 

September 11, 2023 12:20 am | Updated 09:31 am IST

The climate crisis intricately wove itself into the G-20 summit in Delhi, particularly during the discussions on clean energy, sustainable development and the collective responsibility necessary to avert it. The United Nations’ Global Stocktake, a report that was released just ahead of the G-20 meet, set out the scope of challenges that awaited the major economies of the world even as it presented little beyond what is already known. This stocktake is to serve as a template to guide discussion ahead of the 28th Conference of Parties scheduled in Dubai this November and is meant to be an official reckoning of the work actually done by countries since 2015, in stemming greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That year, signatories to the UN convention on climate change agreed in Paris to keep global emissions from rising beyond 2°C and, as far as possible, limit it to 1.5°C. Though it acknowledges “some” headway, the world, as of now, is emitting gases in a manner that will certainly overshoot the Paris-agreed limit. The report unequivocally states that “much more ambition in action and support” is necessary for implementing domestic mitigation measures to reduce global GHG emissions by 43% by 2030, 60% by 2035 and reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 globally. Based on current information submitted by countries, the emissions gap consistent with 1.5°C in 2030 is estimated to be 20.3 billion tonnes–23.9 billion tonnes of CO2. These are gaps unlikely to be filled without a rapid upscaling of renewable energy resources and an eschewal of fossil fuel sources such as coal, oil and natural gas. However despite several acknowledgements by world leaders, most recently at the G-20, of the magnitude of the crisis, little has been achieved in terms of energy transition. G-20 countries account for 93% of global operating coal power plants and 88% of prospective ones.

The G-20 Leader’s Declaration formally recognised the need for “...$5.8-5.9 trillion in the pre-2030 period required for developing countries well as $4 trillion per year for clean energy technologies by 2030 to reach net zero by 2050”. The report also dwells on the need to reverse deforestation and the adoption of electric vehicles as vital prongs to a clean energy economy; however, it does not single out individual countries or provide a more granular analysis of where the existing shortcomings are in the approach adopted by countries to curtail emissions. The Stocktake report however must not be dismissed as yet another technical document. During the upcoming climate talks, it must form the basis of negotiations to aid the discovery and adoption of genuine breakthroughs.

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