Smoke rises from the chimney of a coal-fired power plant in Duisburg, Germany, on Jan. 23 last year.
‘MUST STOP NOW’: The international commitment, with Japan finally getting on board, leaves China alone in its promotion of dirty energy, Greenpeace UK said
/ AFP, LONDON
The G7 club of wealthy nations on Friday agreed to end state financing of coal-fired power plants by the end of this year, and to “mostly decarbonize” electricity supplies in the 2030s.
Ahead of a leaders’ meeting in the UK next month, G7 countries’ climate and environment ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to keep temperature rise below 1.5°C by 2050, following a two-day virtual meeting.
Scientists have said any increases beyond that will trigger uncontrollable climate change.
“Recognizing that continued global investment in unabated coal power generation is incompatible with keeping 1.5°C within reach, we stress that international investments in unabated coal must stop now,” the ministers said.
British Lawmaker Alok Sharma, who is president-designate of the COP26 UN climate summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, said the consensus was “a clear signal to the world that coal is on the way out.”
The move follows a recommendation from the International Energy Agency earlier this week that all future fossil-fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and limit warming to 1.5°C.
German Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Svenja Schulze called the agreement “an important step forward” that gave credibility to industrialized nations to urge others to follow suit.
French Minister of the Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili said it “sets the stage for a radical transition toward clean energy,” hailing Japan, which had resisted, for getting on board.
The G7 countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US — are home to major automakers, and further agreed to “significantly accelerate” the shift away from gasoline in the transport industry within the decade.
Fossil fuels should also be mostly phased out from G7 countries’ electricity supplies by the 2030s.
The grouping reiterated that it aimed to eliminate “inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies” by 2025 and encouraged all countries to follow suit.
Meanwhile, it vowed to “champion” new global biodiversity targets, including conserving or protecting at least 30 percent of global land and at least 30 percent of the global ocean by 2030 to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.
Nations around the world committed under the 2015 Paris accord to keeping the global temperature increase to under 2°C and ideally closer to 1.5°C by 2050.
However, many of the largest emitters have so far failed to do so and countries have not even agreed on a unified rulebook governing how the Paris Agreement works in practice.
Sharma earlier this month said that the upcoming COP26 summit — the biggest climate talks since the Paris talks — were “the last hope” of realistically keeping to the targets.
All G7 nations have 2030 emissions reduction targets, aligned with 2050 net-zero aims.
The German government has raised the ambition on its emissions reduction targets after a landmark ruling by the country’s top court declared that a flagship climate protection law was “insufficient.”
Under the new targets, the German government expects to reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, going further than the current 55 percent reduction target.
Germany is also aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2045, five years earlier than previously planned.
Environmental advocates broadly welcomed the commitments struck on Friday, but urge wealthy countries to produced more detailed plans and timeframes.
“The commitment on ending international coal funding is a real positive and leaves China isolated globally with its ongoing international financing for the most polluting fossil fuel,” said Rebecca Newsom, of Greenpeace UK. “Unfortunately though, too many of these pledges remain vague when we need them to be specific and set out timetabled action.”
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