The Paris Agreement includes the concept of a global stocktake (GST), a process by which progress on climate action is assessed, providing a critical opportunity to review overall progress made on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation and support. Due in part to strong advocacy by small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs), additional thematic areas will be part of the process. However, there remain significant research gaps on L&D that need to be addressed to support a robust GST.
First, most L&D research has been theoretical, focused on conceptualizations of L&D from a variety of perspectives and linkages to other policy frameworks, with significantly less empirical research4. While advancing conceptualization of L&D is important, the GST focuses on Paris Agreement implementation and opportunities for enhanced action and support. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) itself has largely focused on improving knowledge and strengthening dialogue about L&D, with considerably less advancements on increasing action to enable developing countries to address L&D6,7.
Thus, there is a critical need for more empirical information to aid in identification of where and what type of action and support is needed, what works and in which contexts, and how such action and support can be delivered. Research can be provided from both the natural and social sciences along the entire L&D spectrum8, ranging from potential risks and preventive risk reduction strategies to observed impacts and reactive actions taken.
Second, L&D research is not presented in a way that is clearly linked to the UNFCCC framing of L&D. For example, less than 20% of L&D publications utilize a framing of or refer to comprehensive risk management, which is currently used within the UNFCCC to categorize L&D activities4. Simply using wording that indicates the research relates to risk assessment, reduction, transfer, retention or recovery may increase the likelihood that it will be used to inform the GST.
Additionally, there is research relevant to L&D but does not use the particular term ‘loss and damage’. Research on impacts, risks, residual risks and limits to adaptation are closely linked to L&D. Explicitly using these terms in abstracts or directly relating results to L&D is another simple but potentially effective way of enhancing relevance for the GST. Further, categorization of research according to whether insights relate to slow onset or extreme events, and whether economic and non-economic losses are described, would make it more likely that they are recognized as relevant. The framing of transformative adaptation also has potential implications for how L&D is defined and accounted for, and therefore the overlap between these two concepts is worthy of further investigation.
Third, the majority of research on L&D has originated from the developed world, with over 70% of L&D studies coming from institutions in Europe and North America4. More research originating from the developing world is needed, as this plays a role in epistemologies and framings of L&D. SIDS and LDCs have been strong proponents of including L&D as part of the UNFCCC and it is critical that the experiences and perspectives of these groups are well represented in the GST9. More systematic research into how SIDS and LDCs in particular are coping or failing to cope with L&D is essential, including an increased effort in attributing observed impacts to anthropogenic climate change10,11.
This might include consideration of how L&D terminology reflects, and is applied to, the contextual realities of LDCs and SIDS. For example, as adaptation options increasingly involve trade-offs, limits to adaptation may be experienced quite differently by different stakeholders, suggesting a more nuanced application of terminology may be required12,13. Further and deeper integration of non-economic losses would also be beneficial, particularly in situations where limits to adaptation are forcing consideration of more radical responses.
The GST will be conducted on a five-yearly basis. Absent rapid, substantial and sustained emission reductions will mean that climatic risks will continue to rise with an increasing share of unavoidable L&D, particularly in developing countries. This means that on the current emissions trajectory there will be more and more to report on L&D. Research that is empirical, linked to UNFCCC framings of L&D and responds to the need for more research from SIDS and LDCs will contribute to a robust GST that reflects progress made towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Unabated: the Carbon Capture and Storage 86 billion tonne carbon bomb aimed at derailing a fossil phase out
The climate talks at COP28 have centred around the need for a fossil fuel phase out. Our analysis quantifies the risk posed by restricting a phase out commitment to only ‘unabated’ fossil fuels.
No change to warming as fossil fuel endgame brings focus onto false solutions
The CAT's annual warming estimate has risen by 0.1˚C to 2.5˚C. The estimate is largely influenced by weak existing targets rather than shifts triggered by updated Nationally Determined Contributions.
When will global greenhouse gas emissions peak?
The IPCC says peaking before 2025 is a critical step to keep the 1.5°C limit within reach. With emissions set to rise in 2023, this leaves limited time to act. To assess if we can meet this milestone, we look at when global emissions might peak, as well as what we can do to get there in time.
Wind and solar benchmarks for a 1.5°C world
This report presents a detailed methodology for determining the amount of wind and solar capacity that is required for a country to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal. While the focus of the report is the method, it includes illustrative benchmarks for Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Germany, South Africa.
Carbon majors’ trillion dollar damages
In this report we explore who could pay for loss and damage through the lens of responsibility for historic emissions, and the financial gains generated from selling oil and gas.
A 1.5°C future is possible: getting fossil fuels out of the Philippine power sector
The Philippines is also one of the fastest-growing developing countries: poverty is in decline, access to energy is rising and, with that, demand for energy services. However, fossil fuels still dominate the energy system, accounting for 78% of power generation in 2022. This report sets out what the Philippines government needs to do to get the country’s power sector onto a 1.5˚C compatible emissions pathway, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
State of Climate Action 2023
This report finds that global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C are failing across the board, with recent progress made on every indicator – except electric vehicle sales – lagging behind the pace and scale needed to address the climate crisis.
Production Gap Report 2023
Governments, in aggregate, still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. The persistence of the global production gap puts a well-managed and equitable energy transition at risk.
Emissions impossible: Unpacking CSIRO GISERA Beetaloo Middle Arm fossil gas emissions estimates
This report provides an independent evaluation of the CSIRO and GISERA assessments of the potential greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the exploitation of the Beetaloo fossil shale gas reserves.
Coastal loss and damage for small islands
This commentary on a paper in Nature Sustainability reviews how the study quantifies the impacts of sea-level rise on small island states and estimates the impacts in terms of cost, land loss and population exposure across all small islands worldwide.
Adjusting 1.5°C climate change mitigation pathways in light of adverse new information
This study uses an integrated assessment model to explore how 1.5°C pathways could adjust in light of new adverse information, such as a reduced 1.5°C carbon budget, or slower-than-expected low-carbon technology deployment.