Equity in the Global Stocktake

Discussion paper with four approaches for equitable and ambitious climate action

  • News 17.07.2023

Every five years, the Global Stocktake (GST) takes place as a central component of the Paris Climate Agreement. The aim is to review how effectively the parties are implementing the agreement, where they are making collective progress towards the goals, and in which areas ambition needs to be re-scaled to meet the Paris temperature targets. Equity plays an important role in this. This is made clear in the recently published discussion paper "Addressing equity in the Global Stocktake" by researchers from the Wuppertal Institute, Öko-Institut and the Project Management Agency of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency. Christiane Beuermann, Co-Head of the Research Unit Global Climate Governance at the Wuppertal Institute, together with the Researcher Carsten Elsner and the Junior Researcher Max Schulze-Steinen, from the same Research Unit, contributed to the paper.

The authors discuss several approaches/concepts that can help to build confidence in the planned measures including the new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and to implement equitable and ambitious climate protection measures, e.g.: The following measures, which are sometimes contradictory in their implementation, were highlighted:

  • Responsibility: Historical and/or current responsibility is taken into account in the distribution of efforts to address climate change. 
  • Capabilities approach: Different capabilities between countries are taken into account when addressing climate change.
  • Egalitarianism: Greenhouse gas emissions or a remaining emissions budget are distributed evenly on a per-capita basis.
  • Sufficientarianism/right to subsistence emissions: This concept ensures that climate action does not compromise living conditions under a certain threshold. 

But relying only on a concept will not be enough in view of the threat posed by the climate crisis and the rapidly closing window of opportunity for ambitious climate policy, explains Max Schulze-Steinen: "We need to take into account the individual capabilities and opportunities of the Parties in all areas of climate protection. Countries should consider individual greenhouse gas emissions per person when setting their new climate targets. Countries with more financial and technical resources should use them to implement ambitious climate action and support countries with limited capacity."

The discussion paper "Addressing equity in the Global Stocktake" is published in the series Climate Change by the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA), issue 27. The publication can be downloaded free of charge under the link below.

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