In a historic move, the G7 countries have vowed to tackle climate change by accelerating their transition to renewable energy and decarbonising their power grids. On April 16, the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers met in Sapporo, Japan, where the group committed to work towards developing carbon-free electricity production by 2035. They discussed ways to reduce carbon emissions and phase out the use of “domestic unabated coal power”. ‘Unabated’ here implies those coal-based power plants that don’t have the infrastructural capacity to capture and store their carbon emissions, whereas the abated plants are those with a carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) mechanism in place.
In the precursory discussion to the annual leaders’ summit that is to be held in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21, the G7 countries have raised concerns regarding the critical requirement to reduce global carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2035 in order to keep the rise in global temperature limited to 1.5° celsius. Therefore, apart from phasing out unabated fossil fuels, the communique has agreed to an accelerated development in the renewable energy sector to meet the gap in demand that would be created by resultantly cutting off gas and coal. The G7 climate and environment ministers collectively agreed to increase offshore wind capacity by 150 GW and solar power to more than 1TW by 2030. The communique also reiterated its commitment to achieving net zero emissions in international shipping by 2050.
This is a crucial step in reducing carbon emissions, which are the primary cause of climate change. This means that they will reduce their reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. By reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, the G7 countries are paving the way for a cleaner, more sustainable future. This is a significant commitment that requires substantial effort from all member countries. This will not only reduce carbon emissions but also create new opportunities for green jobs and sustainable economic growth.
Although the G7 ministers agreed to decarbonise their power sector by 2035, they couldn’t come to a consensus on the UK and Canada’s proposal to phase out coal by 2030, which was opposed by Japan, the US, and the European Union. Rather, the requirement of coal power plants was disregarded by the ministers, both within G7 or even globally. The communique also rejected Japan’s efforts to promote ammonia co-firing as a clean technology both locally and in Asia via the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC). This year, there has been a shift in attitude towards new gas investments, with ministers viewing them as a possibility to address potential shortfalls, but only if it aligns with climate objectives.
While bringing attention to the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss, the ministers also unanimously condemned the Russian aggression over Ukraine, expressing concerns over the resultant unprecedented global energy and food crises that it has created.
The G7 countries’ commitment to decarbonise power grids and phase out unabated fossil fuels is a significant step towards reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change. This is a crucial moment in the fight against climate change, and it is up to all of us to do our part to create a more sustainable future. The G7’s commitment to renewable energy is a positive sign, and we must continue to hold governments accountable for their actions.