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Two men and two women standing in front of a large doorway at COP28.

COP28 in Dubai can well be an economist’s dream come true as the instrumental role of data and measurement for credible policymaking has been central to the conference agenda.

This article was authored by Professor Laura Marsiliani (Durham University Business School) as part of our COP28 campaign. To find out more about our delegates and work to address one of the most pressing challenges of our time, visit our COP28 webpage. 

COP28 in Dubai can well be an economist’s dream come true as the instrumental role of data and measurement for credible policymaking has been central to the conference agenda. 

Global Stocktake (GST)

COP28 is when the first Global Stocktake (GST) process is to be completed. Every five years starting in 2023, the GST will record progress towards the Parties’ climate targets and set ambitions for future climate policies. This is a mechanism through which sovereign states commit to transparency and accountability in absence of a supernational regulatory power.  Though not explicitly, it is also a disciplinary devise to keep countries in check. The GST uses data to demonstrate alignment of climate actions with climate targets, foremostly the Paris Agreement goal of no more than 1.5 degrees warming above pre-industrial level. Dismayingly, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this goal implies a significant and urgent stepping up of climate policies, which the GST mechanism ultimately tries to spearhead.


Global Gender Stocktake

Alongside the GST, COP28 has also focused on the Global Gender Stocktake. At the pre-COP28 conference on Gender and Environment Data, held on 28 - 29 November 2023, and within the COP28 UEA presidential programme, a strong commitment has clearly emerged on providing gender-based data alongside environmental data for the Global Stocktake process. Women and girls may not only be disproportionally affected by climate change but also by climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, especially in climate vulnerable countries. Phasing out unsustainable agriculture practices where women are employed in high proportion or relocating communities away from flooding prone areas are examples of climate related policies which may have a serious gender impact. This is compounded by the grim fact that many women across the globe are economically vulnerable as they do not have access to education, are not part of the workforce or in low paid jobs. Yet, there are success stories too. In 2021, the World Bank extensively reported on how scaling up solar home systems and clean cooking schemes using biogas in Bangladesh have empowered women and benefitted entire families, foremostly in rural and poor communities. The significance of the Global Gender Stocktake is self-evident, we must keep track of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) data across countries if we wish to ensure an inclusive and gender-just transition to a net zero carbon economy.


Regional market-based instruments for joint biodiversity and climate policy

A side event co-organised by the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE) reported evidence of success of local and regional market-based instruments for joint biodiversity and climate policy, alongside the shortcomings of carbon offsetting schemes. On the latter, new research has emerged showing that lack of accurate methods for quantifying carbon credits may result in credits being useless or even detrimental for tackling climate change (Credit credibility threatens forests, Science, 4 May 2023). Professor Koundouri, Chair of the World Council of Environmental and Resource Economists Associations (WCEREA), presented the work of the recently launched Global Climate Hub, part of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). The purpose of the Hub is to provide quantitative assessment of the impact of climate policies on physical and socio-economic systems, paying particular attention to vulnerable groups and communities.  The need for a minimum price for carbon credits to ensure that clean investment translates into long term benefit to local communities (e.g. farmers, indigenous populations) was also highlighted.

At a time when other geopolitical events and the cost-of-living crisis take the centre stage, more than ever we need reliable data and measurement to address the climate challenge and ensure a just transition to a net zero carbon economy. By facilitating Parties’ commitment to the GST and discussion around the opportunities offered by data and measurement, COP28 may emerge as the conference that has paved the way for robust, evidence-based climate actions.


Image left to right: Professor Andrew Russell (Anthropology), Professor Petra Minnerop (Durham Law School), Professor Laura Marsiliani (Durham University Business School) and Research Associate Ghulam Mustafa Kamran (Durham Law School) pictured at COP28 in Dubai.