Ah Tan Blog
G7's Climate Commitments Continue to Fall Short, lacking a Timetable to Phase Out Fossil Fuels
By Kevin Li, Researcher, CarbonCare InnoLab
Over the weekend of April 15-16, the G7 held a meeting of climate, energy, and environmental ministers in Sapporo, Japan to address the challenges of climate change. As one of the world's strongest political and economic powers, the G7 countries have a significant responsibility to take action on climate change, as they account for a large portion of global economic output, energy demand, and greenhouse gas emissions. ,
The meeting was particularly important because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its Synthesis Report from the Sixth Assessment cycle, which once again emphasized the urgent need for world governments to invest in renewable energy facilities, improve energy efficiency, and strengthen policies and planning for climate adaptation and resilience. The report also called for accelerating actions towards the global target of controlling temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
However, despite the urgency of the situation, the G7's commitments to climate action have fallen short. According to the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) submitted by countries on the eve of last year's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), even if all countries fully implement their NDC commitments, the global average temperature will still rise by 2.4-2.6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, far exceeding the requirements of 1.5 or 2 degrees.
Therefore, it is crucial for the G7 to make new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy, and accelerate climate mitigation and adaptation actions to meet the 1.5-degree decarbonisation pathway. It is only by providing more specific commitments and timelines that the G7 can ensure the achievement of its goals.
While the communique issued after the ministerial meeting indicates that the G7 ministers continue to make comprehensive commitments on climate and energy issues, there is still much work to be done. Ministers did not specify commitments and timelines on some key issues, which may affect the process of phasing out fossil fuels. As such, it remains to be seen whether the G7 will be able to provide the necessary leadership to promote climate action globally and meet the 1.5-degree target.
G7's Concrete Commitments to Renewable Energy Are Encouraging
The G7's concrete commitments to renewable energy are significant, as they provide specific goals and timelines for expanding the application of renewable energy worldwide and reducing costs. The group plans to increase global offshore wind power capacity by 150 million kilowatts and raise solar photovoltaic capacity to over 1 billion kilowatts by 2030. Currently, the global offshore wind power capacity and solar photovoltaic capacity are far below these targets, at around 63 million kilowatts and 330 million kilowatts, respectively.
These commitments demonstrate the ambition and determination of the G7 to address the challenges of climate change and provide important guidance for the global transition to clean energy. However, there are concerns about the G7's response to phasing out fossil fuels. While the ministers reaffirmed the recommendations of the latest IPCC report in the communique, there are doubts about their interpretation of the G7's goal to achieve "full or predominant" decarbonisation of the electricity industry by 2035.
It is reported that Japan and the other six countries have vastly different understandings of what "predominant decarbonisation" means, with Japan interpreting it as over 50% decarbonisation, while the others believe it is 98% decarbonisation. This discrepancy may hinder the G7's ability to achieve its decarbonisation goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, the carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology as a way to reduce carbon emissions raises questions about the G7's commitment to phasing out fossil fuels. CCS technology is still in the experimental stage and has questionable cost-effectiveness and high costs. These issues may lead some to believe that the G7 is only using immature technology as a cover to continue investing in coal-fired power generation and other fossil fuels.
While the G7's commitments to renewable energy are encouraging, more specific commitments and timelines are needed to ensure the achievement of the group's goals. The interpretation of the G7's commitment to phasing out fossil fuels must also be clarified to avoid confusion and maintain the trust of the global community.
G7 Must Gradually Phase Out All Forms of Fossil Fuel Power Generation
While the G7's commitments to renewable energy are encouraging, the group must also phase out all forms of fossil fuel power generation to achieve its climate goals. The ministers' commitment to natural gas and nuclear energy in the communique raises concerns, as both industries continue to pose significant risks to the environment and public health.
Despite the ongoing safety risks, the G7 ministers emphasized the safety of nuclear energy and nuclear waste management in the communique, which raises doubts about the group's commitment to addressing the issues of nuclear energy. Additionally, the promotion of hydrogen and ammonia, as well as carbon capture and storage technology, seems to aim to sustain the fossil fuel industry's prospects rather than aligning with the 1.5-degree decarbonisation pathway. ,
The G7's commitment to international energy financing is also an important issue, as the public expects the group to increase investment in renewable energy and address the gap in climate financing. However, the ministers did not make any new specific commitments in the communique, which only responded to the public's expectations with words like "scale up" and "redouble."
The G7's promise to stop new investments in coal-fired power projects that emit carbon uncontrollably by the end of 2022 is a positive step, but the group needs to clearly state when existing coal-fired power equipment and controversial natural gas-fired power will be phased out. Environmental organizations have also found that Japan continues to invest in natural gas-fired power overseas and uses carbon capture and storage technology to evade its decarbonisation commitments.
In terms of funding for climate adaptation and loss and damage, the G7 ministers expressed strong concern in the communique but did not make any new specific commitments. The group needs to strengthen measures to ensure it aligns with the 1.5-degree decarbonisation pathway in achieving its climate goals and provide more specific commitments to climate financing and disaster recovery frameworks.
G7 Acknowledges Cities' Significant Contribution to Carbon Reduction
The G7 minister's communique acknowledges the significant contribution of cities in mitigating climate change, as they account for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The communique emphasizes the need for city governments to work closely with stakeholders and respond to local demands for climate mitigation and adaptation through dialogue, while promoting climate action together.
The G7 has the potential to become a global model for carbon reduction, but there are concerns about countries evading their commitments through clever wordplay and immature technology. Environmental groups hope that governments will prioritize carbon reduction and renewable energy transformation rather than protecting the fossil fuel industry.
The attitude of G7 ministers will have a crucial impact on upcoming climate events, including the G7 leaders' summit, the United Nations Bonn Climate Change Conference, the United Nations Climate Action Summit, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28). Environmental groups worldwide will continue to monitor and push for major economies' leaders to increase investment in climate action.
In conclusion, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is a global challenge that requires cooperation and concrete measures worldwide to meet the 1.5-degree carbon reduction pathway and mitigate the impacts of climate change on humanity and the planet. The G7's commitments to renewable energy and acknowledgement of cities' significant contribution are positive steps, but more specific commitments and timeline to phase out all forms of fossil fuels are needed to achieve the group's goals and ensure a sustainable future for all.
1. Livingstone D., "The G7 Climate Mandate and the Tragedy of Horizons," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 4 February 2016. [Accessed on 17 April 2023] https://carnegieendowment.org/2016/02/04/g7-climate-mandate-and-tragedy-of-horizons-pub-62665
2. International Energy Agency (IEA), "G7 members can lead the world in reducing emissions from heavy industry," IEA, 19 May 2022. [Accessed on 17 April 2023] https://www.iea.org/news/g7-members-can-lead-the-world-in-reducing-emissions-from-heavy-industry
3. G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment, “G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers’ Communiqué,” 16 April 2023. [Accessed on 17 April 2023] https://www.env.go.jp/content/000127536.pdf
4. Golubkova, K. and Yuka Obayashi, "G7 ministers set big new targets for solar and wind capacity," Reuters, 17 April 2023 [Accessed on 17 April 2023] https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/g7-ministers-agree-speed-up-transition-clean-energy-communique-2023-04-16/
5. Oil Change International (OCI), “Briefing: Japan’s Toxic Energy Strategy for Asia,” OCI, 11 April 2023. [Accessed on 17 April 2023]. https://priceofoil.org/2023/04/11/briefing-japans-toxic-energy-strategy-for-asia/
6. Please refer to our another article for the discussion of green hydrogen: https://www.ccinnolab.org/en/AhTanBlogPost/ahtanblog57
7. Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), "Project Financing for Syrdarya II Natural Gas-Fired Combined Cycle Power Plant Project in Uzbekistan," JBIC, 24 March 2023. [Accessed on 17 April 2023]. https://www.jbic.go.jp/en/information/press/press-2022/0324-017573.html
8. Oda, S. & Tsuyoshi Inajima, "Fossil Fuels Find a Loophole in the Latest G-7 Climate Pledge," Bloomberg, 16 April 2023. [Accessed on 17 April 2023]. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-04-16/g-7-agree-to-fossil-fuel-phase-out-without-coal-exit-deadline