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Climate Change

G7 pledges to quit fossil fuels faster, but doesn't set new deadline on phasing out coal

The call to action comes as many developing countries step up demands for more help in phasing out fossil fuels and stabilising energy prices.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT ministers of the G7 have vowed to work to hasten the shift towards cleaner, renewable energy.

But the world’s wealthiest nations set no timetable for phasing out coal-fired power plants as they wrapped up two days of talks in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo.

The G7 officials issued a communique laying out their commitments.

The 36-page document was prepared in advance of a G7 summit that will be held 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.

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It said the leaders recognised the importance of finding efficient, affordable and diverse energy sources, which “underscore our commitment to implementing immediate, short- and medium-term action in this critical decade”.

The call to action comes as China and other developing countries step up demands for more help in phasing out fossil fuels and stabilising 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 document, issued today, reiterated the need to urgently reduce carbon emissions and achieve a “predominantly decarbonised power sector” by 2035.

The stipulation that it be “predominantly” clean energy leaves room for continuation of fossil-fuel fired power.

But the ministers agreed to prioritise steps towards phasing out “unabated” coal power generation – plants that do not employ mechanisms to capture emissions and prevent them from escaping into the atmosphere.


“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 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, 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 dollar 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 Inacio 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.”

Lula met with Xi in Beijing on Friday.

Economic development is the first defence against climate change, Bhupender Yadav, India’s environment minister, said in a tweet.

“The global goal of reaching net zero by 2050 needs enhanced emission descaling by developed nations,” Yadav said.

“This will provide space for countries like India to achieve the development required for its people, which will provide necessary defense against the impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and pollution.”

Al Jaber urged international financial institutions to do a better job of supporting efforts to minimise and mitigate climate change given the need to vastly and rapidly increase renewable power generation capacity.

While the G7 energy and environment ministers were wrapping up their two-day 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.

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