Linking Science and the Global Stocktake

On the 8th November 2017, the German Pavilion had a session on Global Stocktake: Information from the science.The session comprised of leading and influential figures from both the government and scientific fields. It was chaired by Ms. Eliza Norton of the World Resources institute, and the esteemed panelists were:

  • Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • H.E. Janine Felson, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Belize to the United Nations
  • Dr. Kiyoto Tanabe, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
  • Nicole Wilke, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
From the left towards right: Eliza, Nicole, Prof. Ottmar, Janine, Dr. Kiyoto

From the left towards right: Eliza, Nicole, Prof. Ottmar, Janine, Dr. Kiyoto

The session kicked off with a welcoming remark by Eliza, followed by an introduction of speakers. She then proceeded to moderate the session, with an opening question, “What does the global stocktake need to deliver? And how does science complements?”

Nicole was first to answer the question by pointing out that in order to stay below 2C or 1.5C, we need to take additional action. She said that we are still far from where we have to be, thus we need to take the opportunity, latching on the gap report that is coming out. There are two crucial questions that science have to deliver, which are;

  1. Where are we?
  2. Where do the opportunities lie?

The ‘Where are we?’ question reflects on how big of a gap we have to fill, in terms of mitigation, adaptation and resilience, as well as finance. For the second question, which is ‘Where do opportunities lie?’ refers to the need to mention non-state actors and CSOs, in order to get the momentum going.

Janine added that the global stocktake is a monumental task. She urged for policy makers to step out of the negotiating mindset, and instead looking at it as a catalyser. In order for a significant transformation to occur, we need to be progressive and aggressive. For example, start researching and looking into options of what countries have done in terms of adaptation, mitigation and finance, then proceed to see where we should start investing. She strongly stated that we need to start switching the gears of finance into a low carbon emission pathway. The science that we have need to be useful, especially to the policymakers. She conveyed that a successful global stocktake is one that information could be easily communicated across various sectors and interest groups.

Eliza then agreed with Janine, on her point that it is important to truly have that cooperation on a catalytic approach. Thus, there is a need to have design and modality to provide a space to carry out that conversation.

Moving on, the following question that Eliza put forward was regarding the relationship of science and the global stocktake, and how can science be the guiding principle for the global stocktake.

Prof. Ottmar gave a refreshing view on this. He said as former co-chair of IPCC, if one would like to reference science, there is a need to reform IPCC. He continued on by saying that some governments hate to talk about the past. In the case of emissions development, some governments even deleted graphs in policy papers. He is convinced that science need to deliver a coherent assessment and evidence based on policy analysis. However, we are currently in a situation where maturity of social science and economic research cat be delivered yet. There is a need for a new kind of funding in the research part. Referring back to the IPCC mandate, it was only a policy element with policy prescriptive. With this said, the content of IPCC can be fulfilled in terms of climate physics, but there is a problem when it comes to IPCC having to evaluate government policies.

Speaking from a current IPCC panel perspective, Dr. Kiyoto pointed out that the IPCC is currently putting together the 6th Assessment Report (AR6) and the SBSTA encourages IPCC to pay extra attention to GST. Hence, in the AR6, there is a specific mention of GST that can be found in the framing of Chapter 1. Dr. Kiyoto highlighted that a key area that is under the IPCC, which is the methodology report for national inventories. The Agenda Item 13 of the Paris Agreement, which is transparency framework for action and support, requires countries to submit report including national greenhouse gas emissions and the GST. All reports will be made available by 2023. He asked whether is there a need to align the assessment cycle with GST cycle, then suggested that perhaps IPCC establish a task force for the issue.

Before continuing on to the questions and answers session, Eliza asked on the gaps and considerations of the IPCC.

Nicole voiced out that there were multiple information and assessment on where we are as it has been developed quite a lot in past IPCC reports. However, in terms of GST, there are a lot to update. She called for the IPCC to continuously provide input. This was because when it came to cooperation, there is a gap on how to implement it. She mentioned that social science played a crucial role, especially in terms on working with instruments. An example given was on the NDC partnership that was launched by Germany and Morocco in COP22. More support is clearly needed, particularly in terms of ideas on how to better implement it.

Prof. Ottmar reiterated that he have no intention to have IPCC to change. Ideally, IPCC should carry out policy evaluation, however the function of IPCC cannot be replicated quite easily. He emphasised that we are now in a different phase. There is a need to prove that climate change is man made. We are now moving into a phase on “how” to do it, not “why” anymore. There is a need to merge scientific body evidence together with the science and policy interface, thus resulting in evidence based policy.

Janine continued on, saying that there are already own scoping exercise being carried out by colleagues on the ground in terms of science, policy and evaluation. With this process, it ensures that IPCC have strong legitimacy. She added that there is value in bringing information on other inputs.

Touching on the topic of GST, Dr. Kiyoto addressed that GST is not to evaluate each countries NDC. However, there is a need to carry it out in a manner that is facilitative. With that being said, we need to take into account each countries policy decision process. He also expressed that AR6 cycle needs to do something new.

Following on Dr. Kiyoto’s point on GST and NDC, Prof. Ottmar said that GST required careful analysis of different NDC. Metaphorically, he said that there is a need to have a common denominator for a central currency. He also further elaborated that we have to avoid using the stocktake as a blaming and shaming exercise.

Putting her perspective into words, Nicole shared that GST is an exercise, but not on an individual country level. It is obviously in the interest for each government if the policy delivers. In order for a collective analysis to be carried out, there is a huge need for science to develop tools for the multilateral process.

To conclude, Janine eloquently said that if we want an output, then we need to negotiate on an output. On the technical phase, we need to put it on papers. There is also a need to crunch data to make it easily communicated to those involved. It is more important to look at the outcome more than output.

The session then proceeded with Q&A session from the floor, before ending.

Graphic recording by Björn Pertoft, Visual Facilitator

Graphic recording by Björn Pertoft, Visual Facilitator

Written by Jasmin

Edited by Varun

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