During the historic Paris Agreement discussions in 2015, countries committed to creating a process for countries to regularly look in the mirror and literally ‘take stock’ of where they are progressing towards meeting the Paris Agreement goals and – most urgently – where they are not.
This process – collectively called the global stocktake – is designed to clearly lay out the key areas where countries are failing on their climate commitments and that need the most immediate attention. It also aims to highlight a range of potential solutions that will help countries to strengthen their existing climate action plans.
Fauna & Flora’s Senior Technical Specialist on Climate Change, Annamária Lehoczky highlights what she thinks should be the key take aways from the stocktake at COP28.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, Glasgow, November 2021.
All eyes on Dubai for COP 28
In September, a synthesis report of the two-year-long information-gathering process of the first-ever global stocktake was published. This provided an analysis of global action on climate change so far, building on the best available science and countries’ and observers’ views on progress. As you can imagine, the results were not positive; we’re currently nowhere near the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees C.
But, the report does include tangible ways forward and, against the odds, we do have reasons to be hopeful.
At COP28, taking place in Dubai 30 November – 12 December 2023, nations will come together to discuss and agree upon the final piece of the puzzle – how we can use the global stocktake’s findings to correct the climate chaos course we’re currently on. Leaders will ultimately agree on a global stocktake ‘outcome’ that should set nations on the right track going forward, with the information and tools needed to meaningfully update their nationally determined contributions to meeting the Paris Goals.
The global stocktake outcome is a key focal point of the COP28 negotiations that Fauna & Flora will be following closely. This outcome provides an unmissable opportunity to shine a spotlight on real and tangible climate solutions, and it’s an opportunity for nature to finally be made a central part of that picture.
A greater emphasis on nature to store carbon
From carbon-sequestering forest areas, to climate-regulating marine ecosystems, we see daily the benefits of biodiversity protection; not just for plants and animals, but for the climate too. Recent analysis has shown that around the world at least one billion tonnes of carbon are being locked up in the vegetation, soil and sediments of sites protected by Fauna & Flora and our partners. That’s equivalent to the carbon content of eight billion barrels of crude oil, or 23 years’ worth of UK crude oil production. And that’s just our project sites.
Protecting important carbon-storing and sequestering areas – that are also rich in biodiversity – is essential to the climate fight. The global stocktake outcome must, therefore, provide guidance to countries on how they can better embed, finance and accelerate the implementation of high-integrity nature-based solutions to climate change – both terrestrial and marine – into their national action plans. Importantly, the outcome must amplify nature as a vital mechanism that works alongside, and not as a substitute of, the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, if we hope to really make progress towards the Paris Agreement goals.
Climate solutions in local hands
By putting nature protection and locally-led, rights-based approaches front and centre of the climate debate, we can also enable those people and communities who are living closest to nature and on the frontline of climate change to participate fully and benefit equitably from climate action. With an estimated 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity currently protected by Indigenous Peoples, it is essential these communities are supported to continue protecting nature sustainably. But, currently, only about 10% of climate finance reaches local actors in developing countries. This is a missed opportunity – but one which the global stocktake response could work to turn around too.
We are calling for the importance of locally-led approaches to nature-based mitigation and adaptation action, and a commitment to Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ meaningful participation, to be referenced in the decision of the global stocktake. Laying out this message loud and clear will go a long way to helping unlock increased public and private investment in projects with a locally-led approach – as a result supporting nature, livelihoods and climate action.
Embedding nature into the global stocktake’s forward-looking, solution-oriented element has the potential to bring innumerable benefits for people, nature and climate. Specifically, including references to aligning the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Global Biodiversity Framework would underpin this. If we don’t, the consequences could be devastating.
Angélica Valdivia, Nicaragua Country Director, on an Ometepe farm, where local farmers are supported in developing climate-resilient measures that also benefit nature.
The linked fortunes of nature and climate
We cannot tackle climate change without the help of nature, but it’s true that the worse climate change gets, the more nature – and its invaluable climate-fighting capacity – is degraded. It’s a vicious cycle, but the sooner we cut emissions, and the sooner we start leveraging nature’s power for helping us to mitigate and adapt to climate change, the more secure nature’s protection will be, and the safer and more liveable the climate will be too.
Annamária works on climate-proofing Fauna & Flora’s projects, supporting project teams and partners to develop a deeper understanding of climate risk and vulnerability at site level, and to scale up work on ecosystem-based and locally-led approaches to climate adaptation. She holds a PhD in Climate Change, and serves as internal advisor on climate science and on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) processes.