CEOS Development Environment

CEOS Strategy to Support the Global Stocktake of the Paris Climate Agreement

Article 14 of the Paris Climate Agreement sets out the concept of the Global Stocktake (GST) as a means to evaluate global progress towards the goals of the Agreement. Earth observations naturally play a key role in this process, and CEOS & CEOS Agencies have been working hard in the years leading up to the first GST, to be held in November 2023, at the 28th Conference of Parties of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This series of articles details the work of CEOS & CEOS Agencies to support the GST process, and includes:

At the 2021 CEOS Plenary, CEOS Principals endorsed the CEOS Strategy to Support the Global Stocktake of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement (v3.1). The paper sets out a way forward by which CEOS Agencies can coordinate their efforts to support the first and subsequent Global Stocktake (GST) of the 2015 Paris Agreement among Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In 2021, then-SIT Co-Chairs, Geoscience Australia & CSIRO, established a GST Study Team to develop a paper which set out the various elements of CEOS support to the GST. The Study Team met over several teleconferences January-April 2021, and then-SIT Vice Chair, ESA, led the preparation of the paper.

The paper covers the specific modalities of the GST and proposes where and how Agencies can support its implementation. Support could be either to the overall assessment of collective progress towards the GST, or to individual parties in their transparent reporting as required by the Paris Agreement. The paper identifies nine recommendations for future actions, building on the significant efforts to date. The SIT Chair leads the effort towards achieving these recommendations, with contributions from various CEOS working teams.

The Paris Agreement calls upon various Parties, the Secretariat of UNFCCC, its Subsidiary Bodies and some outside bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to undertake specific tasks in its implementation. The Agreement sets up an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement to oversee and guide its implementation and that of the GST. 

The mechanisms set out by the Paris Agreement differed from previous UNFCCC COP agreements, in particular by the establishment of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Parties are obliged under the Agreement to submit their goals to reduce national anthropogenic emissions by 2020 in the first instance and every five years thereafter, regardless of the respective implementation time frames. Each NDC will be required to represent a progressive reduction in anthropogenic emissions compared with the previous one and must reflect the highest ambition of the country. The NDCs also invite the submission of information on adaptation, and, in the case of developed countries, further information on finance, technology transfer and capacity building is also required. 

The substantive elements of the GST of particular interest to CEOS and Space Agencies are:

  • Mitigation, i.e. reporting, measuring and tracking the progressive decrease in national GHG emissions
  • Adaptation to ongoing climate change and its consequences and impacts
  • Finance of mechanisms to support the Paris Agreement
  • Equity among Parties for implementation, which is implicit in the process

The below recommendations are those set out in the GST Strategy. Updates on the progress towards these actions will be covered during other articles in this series. 


Recommendation 1: WGClimate GHG Task Team should consult with the relevant elements of CEOS, including Associates such as ISC, WCRP and GCOS, together with modelers, to check the GHG Implementation roadmap on completeness concerning requirements for terrestrial observation (SIF; NPP, land cover, biomass, etc.) for supporting mitigation actions through the development of MVS. The actions in Annex C of the roadmap shall be complemented as needed.

Recommendation 2: The need for parallel inputs to ocean models deemed necessary for the support of MVS and for a wider validation of carbon flux estimates globally should be considered and appropriately combined into the actions in Annex C of the GHG roadmap. This should also be led by the WGClimate GHG TT in cooperation with Ocean VCs and modeling groups, together with GCOS, GOOS, WCRP and individual agencies.

Recommendation 3: The results of the actions from the above recommendations should inform (a) the report of CEOS to UNFCCC/RSO discussion on observation to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement and should proactively flow into (b) the consultancy process of the UNFCCC / Ad hoc group for the Synthesis Report on Observations for the GST. CEOS should also report on this at the Earth Information Day at COP26. CEOS and its Agencies should argue to be a primary source of consistent global land and ocean surface data (land cover type, biomass, phenology…) in the discussion with UNFCCC/RSO, in addition to providing the integrated measurements of GHG and co-emitted species in the atmosphere.

Recommendation 4: CEOS should consider, in conjunction with modelers, setting up one or more focused observational campaigns in the areas suggested above, or others, as a major contribution to the understanding of the trends of GHG emissions from natural sources in key areas.

Recommendation 5: The AFOLU Roadmap Team should continue the work it has started for CEOS, reflecting the decisions taken at CEOS Plenary 2020. The AFOLU Roadmap Team and WGClimate GHG Task Team should work together to ensure consistency between data for emissions reported via AFOLU and for prior biogenic terrestrial emissions, and those due to changing land use, in implementing monitoring and verification systems. These need to be consistent on both temporal and spatial scales. The WGClimate GHG Task Team should ensure that their Roadmap is consistent with the outcomes of this discussion. 

Recommendation 6: It is recommended that to help in ensuring the take-up of satellite-based methods for AFOLU (and indeed in the context of MVS) CEOS should work with a few selected demonstrator countries to assist them in their national reporting under AFOLU (the model of GFOI can be compared). USGS through its SilvaCarbon programme has volunteered to lead this work, together with relevant CEOS bodies (LSI-VC, AFOLU Roadmap Team, CEOS member contributions). 


Recommendation 7: CEOS should work with the various partners set out above to identify data requirements and actions for CEOS in relation to adaptation, including participation of relevant CEOS groups such as WG Climate and WG Disasters. Case studies might be of value to demonstrate competence and relevance. Partnership with specific countries in implementing their NAPs could be of value, as in the case of AFOLU above, both to demonstrate worked examples and to strengthen support for this approach at UNFCCC, including at CoPs.

Equity and Finance

Recommendation 8: CEOS should maintain a watch over the implementation of projects funded through climate fund mechanisms to ensure that all appropriate assistance is given by agencies in their implementation and governance.

Supporting the IPCC

Recommendation 9: CEOS must continue all efforts to provide the necessary climate data records which support the assessment of the actual status of the climate and the prediction and projection of future climate change, its response to changing GHG emissions and other drivers, and impacts of climate change.