Climate Change

COP28: Fourth Draft of Global Stocktake Text accommodates too many divergent viewpoints, waters down ambition

There is a lack of clarity on thorny issues including fossil fuel phaseout and energy sector decarbonisation

By Tamanna Sengupta, Avantika Goswami
Published: Monday 11 December 2023

EU Commissioner for Climate Wopke Hoekstra surrounded by journalists at COP 28. Photo: @WBHoekstra / XEU Commissioner for Climate Wopke Hoekstra surrounded by journalists at COP 28. Photo: @WBHoekstra / X

After a long wait, the much anticipated fourth draft of the text on the Global Stocktake (GST) was produced on December 11 at 04:30PM local time by the COP28 Presidency. The 21-page text combined multiple divergent viewpoints but omitted the previous draft’s language on phasing out fossil fuels. The text mentions fossil fuels three times, and coal twice, but makes no mention of oil and gas. It offers a menu of options on energy sector decarbonisation that countries “could” take thereby watering down urgency on the issue. There is currently a lack of clarity on whether countries should opt for all or some of the options on energy, and discussions are expected to continue at a Heads of Delegation meeting on the night of December 11. The COP28 Presidency emphasised that the summit will close with a consensus on December 12, the scheduled “last” day of the summit, but it remains to be seen if agreement is within reach.

Fossil Fuels

The fact that the text retains the paragraph on fossil fuels and did not go with the “no-text” option offers little solace when the final alternative presents a laundry list of fossil fuel enabling options to countries. Paragraph 39 lays out 8 options that country Parties “could” take action on to reduce emissions.

This particular paragraph has been consecutively watered down across drafts. The first option on renewable energy, for instance, earlier stated “Tripling renewable energy capacity globally by 2030 compared to the 2022 level to 11,000 GW and doubling the global average annual rate of energy-efficiency improvement compared to the 2022 level to 4.1 per cent by 2030”.

Earlier points mentioning a phaseout of fossil fuels have been removed completely and replaced with “reducing” fossil fuels with a much-relaxed 2050 timeline. Language on coal has gone from “phaseout” to “phasedown” but is still preferable considering the text does not mention “oil” or “gas” throughout.

Also mentioned are unreliable solutions including nuclear and carbon capture. If the text is accepted with the current language, it gives countries all of these options as a menu to choose from and it does not take much to identify the ones that will be off the table first.

Climate Finance

The text on climate finance is generic, and references to multilateral development banks, financial systems reform and the responsibility of developed countries are scattered. Paragraph 96 recognising the need for more grant-based and concessional finance from developed countries has been added.

A new paragraph also urges developed countries to urgently fulfil the $100 billion a year goal through 2025. The same paragraph notes the important role of more public finance. Elsewhere, an earlier paragraph noting the need to “improve transparency and accountability of the private sector by eliminating misleading environmental messaging across markets and address greenwashing” now stands deleted although references to the private sector are plenty.

Notably, despite the consistent push from the United States (US), European Union, UK, Australia and Canada, language on Article 2.1c to align international financial flows with low carbon development has been toned down. The proposal for a Work Programme on Article 2.1c is not mentioned. More interestingly, a proposal from developing Parties including the G77 and China, Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) and African Group of Negotiators (AGN) to call for a Technology Implementation Programme has been included.


The text encourages countries to take on economy-wide targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and to work on international cooperation for enhanced ambition.

At the same time, it also acknowledges that achievement of all conditional NDCs are dependent on the adequate availability of finance, technology and capacity building support.

In an earlier version of the text, this paragraph specified that the support to achieve conditional NDCs must come from developed countries. This language was challenged by the US and is missing in the current draft.


A key ask from developing nations has been to recognise that doubling adaptation finance is only the initial step and much more is needed. The text seems to align with the same, with a paragraph noting the efforts to double adaptation finance and a subsequent one recognising the need to scale up. It also contains a reference to the Adaptation Gap Report 2023 as demanded by the Global South.

Acknowledging the need for more national adaptation plans has been an ask from the developed side in negotiations, along with calls for better monitoring. Developing countries have, in response, mentioned that there is a need for heavy resources for formulating such plans and systems which many of them lack. In a paragraph the new text “recognizes the significant challenges developing country Parties face in accessing finance towards implementing their national adaptation plans”.

Equity and Historical Responsibility

The options on mentioning equity have been removed and replaced with paragraph 6 mentioning the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

In the same vein, the text acknowledges the pre-2020 mitigation gaps by developed country Parties and their failure to meet the emissions reduction target indicated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The specific mention of pre-2020 failures has been a long standing ask of developing countries including India, G77 and China, AGN and LMDC.

Weakening of language on debt

The previous version has an entire paragraph recognising the growing debt of developing countries: “Also recognizes concessional finance and grants have not been targeted where the needs are greatest, and recognizes that current instruments are mainly loans, which is leading to an increase in levels of indebtedness in a context of limited fiscal space, that in turn is leading to increasing risks and costs of finance. A transformative shift towards grants and non-debt instruments would ensure more sustainable financial support”.

This paragraph has been removed completely. Now, debt is mentioned only in one paragraph with a reference to multilateral development banks.  

IPCC models

Helmed by India and later supported by the G77 and China, AGN and BASIC, developing country Parties have been calling for the text to recognise that the IPCC models are not rooted in equitable development and therefore must not be relied on dictate future low emission pathways.

Negotiation rooms saw much debate over the issue, given that the GST process was rooted in the sixth assessment report of the IPCC, being the “best available science”.

In a point referring to the recommendation from the IPCC to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 in order to limit global temperature rise to under 1.5C, there is now an annotation acknowledging the gaps in the models.

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