G7 Ministers commit to move to carbon-free power by 2035

[ad_1]

(From left to right) Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Enrique Mora, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani pose at a welcoming ceremony for G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Karuizawa, Japan, on April 16, 2023.

(From left to right) Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Enrique Mora, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani pose at a welcoming ceremony for G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Karuizawa, Japan, on April 16, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AP

Climate and Energy Ministers and envoys from Group of Seven (G7) countries on April 16 committed to work towards ensuring carbon-free electricity production by 2035 and “accelerating” the phase-out of coal. This was part of an agreement by the countries at the end of a two-day conference in Sapporo, Japan, ahead of the G7 summit in Hiroshima this May.

A proposal to have a 2030 deadline for phasing out coal was shot down and the final text gives leeway for continued investment in gas, on the grounds that it could be a stopgap against energy shortfalls, Reuters reported.

Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav had also participated in the summit with India being invited as a ‘guest’, in the context of its presidency of the G-20.

At the United Nations-Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Glasgow in 2021, India had objected to language in the agreement to “phase out” and pushed instead for a “phase down” of coal. At the COP meeting in Sharm el Sheikh last year, India pushed for a proposal to phase out all fossil fuel sources, including coal and gas. India and China are significantly dependent on coal for electricity, whereas several developed countries, including the United States, Japan, Canada and Europe are reliant on gas reserves. The latter however didn’t find mention in the final text of the Sharm el Sheikh agreement.

The participants on Sunday also agreed to accelerate solar and wind energy investments to produce 1,000 gigawatt (GW) by 2030 from solar power and 150 GW of wind power from off-shore platforms. This, they said, would be in line with recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that repeat the need to ensure that global temperatures do not increase by more than 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

“We reaffirm that fossil fuel subsidies are inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is a key component of delivering on… the Paris Agreement. We reaffirm our commitment to the elimination of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025,” the text of the final agreement noted.

“We highlight that we ended new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021 and public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector in 2022, except in limited circumstances clearly defined by each country consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement. We will each provide an update on our approach to implementation by the end of 2023.”

Minister Yadav, in his remarks on Saturday, said that developing countries too needed finance, technology and assistance from developed countries for transitioning away from fossil fuels and he reiterated that developed countries – all of whom were included in the G7 – make good on their commitments on finance for combatting climate change and provide for the same for dealing with the environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.

Reaching targets on carbon neutrality and increased ambition “will not fly” unless they were made keeping principles of equity and climate justice at their centre, he added.

Associated Press adds:

The officials issued a 36-page communique laying out their commitments ahead of a G7 summit in Hiroshima in May.

Japan won endorsements from fellow G7 countries for its own national strategy emphasising so-called clean coal, hydrogen and nuclear energy to help ensure its energy security.

“Recognising the current global energy crisis and economic disruptions, we reaffirm our commitment to accelerating the clean energy transition to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 at the latest,” the communique says.

The leaders reiterated the need to urgently reduce carbon emissions and achieve a “predominantly decarbonized power sector” by 2035.

“We call on and will work with other countries to end new unabated coal-fired power generation projects globally as soon as possible to accelerate the clean energy transition in a just manner,” the document says.

The stipulation that countries rely on “predominantly” clean energy by 2035 leaves room for continuation of fossil-fuel fired power. But the ministers agreed to prioritize steps toward phasing out “unabated” coal power generation — plants that do not employ mechanisms to capture emissions and prevent them from escaping into the atmosphere.

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said the meetings were “really constructive”.

“I think the unity for the goal that was expressed of phasing out unabated fossil fuels is a very important statement,” Mr, Kerry said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The call to action comes as China and other developing countries step up demands for more help in phasing out fossil fuels and stabilizing energy prices and supplies amid disruptions from Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The issue of setting a timeline for phasing out coal-fired power plants is a longstanding sticking point. Japan relies on coal for nearly one-third of its power generation and is also promoting the use of so-called clean coal, using technology to capture carbon emissions, to produce hydrogen — which produces only water when used as fuel.

The G7 nations account for 40% of the world’s economic activity and a quarter of global carbon emissions. Their actions are critical, but so is their support for less wealthy nations often suffering the worst effects of climate change while having the fewest resources for mitigating such impacts.

Emissions in advanced economies are falling, though historically they have been higher — the United States alone accounts for about a quarter of historic global carbon emissions — while emerging markets and developing economies now account for more than two-thirds of global carbon emissions.

The president-designate for the next United Nations climate talks, the COP28, who was also attending the talks in Sapporo, issued a statement urging G7 nations to increase financial support for developing countries’ transitions to clean energy.

Sultan Al Jaber urged fellow leaders to help deliver a “new deal” on climate finance to boost efforts to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and help protect biodiversity, especially in developing nations.

“We must make a fairer deal for the Global South,” he said. “Not enough is getting to the people and places that need it most.”

He said developed countries must follow through on a $100 billion pledge they made at the 2009 COP15 meeting. The next talks are to be held in Dubai in late November.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva issued a joint statement saying “We remain very concerned that funding provided by developed countries continues to fall short of the commitment of $100 billion per year.”

The document crafted in Sapporo included significant amounts of nuance to allow for differences between the G7 energy strategies, climate advocates said.

“They put out bold language on the urgency of addressing the climate crisis but the real test is what are they saying to the rest of the world about their commitments to scale up ambitions,” Alden Meyer, a senior associate at E3G, a climate change think tank, said in a Twitter spaces session just after the communique was released.

But while other G7 countries prevented Japan from expanding loopholes to allow wider use of fossil fuels, the commitments “fall short of the clarion call to action that was needed”, Mr. Meyer said.

While the G7 Energy and Environment Ministers were wrapping up their meetings in Sapporo, farther south in the mountain city of Karuizawa G7 Foreign Ministers were grappling with other shared concerns including regional security and the war in Ukraine.

The war has complicated efforts to switch to renewable energy by disrupting trade in oil and gas and pushing prices sharply higher. And it has to end for many reasons.

“It’s insane and tragic,” Mr. Kerry said, but phasing out carbon emissions can and must continue.

“I think energy security is being exaggerated in some cases,” Mr. Kerry said, pointing to Germany’s progress in embracing renewable energy.

(With Reuters inputs)

[ad_2]

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *