Leaders of the seven major economies failed to commit to decisive action on fossil fuels during a G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, that took place over the weekend. Japan remains committed to coal generation and Germany to gas.
In the group’s final communiqué they stated that the countries are committed to “support[ing] the energy transition”.
“We also highlight that transition finance, in line with keeping a limit of 1.5°C temperature rise within reach, avoiding carbon lock-ins and based on effective emissions reduction, has a significant role in advancing the decarbonisation of the economy as a whole,” the group went on.
However, the group remains committed to fossil fuels, notably Germany and Japan. The group states that it recognises “the important role that increased deliveries of liquified natural gas (LNG) can play” and sees “publicly supported investment in the gas sector” as an important solution to the power crisis.
Germany has insisted on more public investment in the gas industry, while Japan has also demonstrated resistance to phasing out coal. The group has committed to a “fully or predominantly” decarbonised power sector by 2035, leaving some scope for continued fossil fuel use.
The group was unable to agree on a final deadline for the generation of power using fossil fuels due to resistance from host-country Japan.
Lack of commitment to reducing carbon-intensive power generation
The failure to commit to more extreme action on fossil fuels has brought criticism from smaller economies. A group of countries led by Chile, the Netherlands and New Zealand has written an open letter from the nations urging the G7 to take stronger action on decarbonisation.
Hydrogen and ammonia were suggested by the G7 as alternative fuel choices moving forward. They also suggested the adoption of international standards for calculating the carbon intensity of hydrogen.
The group also pointed towards carbon capture and storage as a possible means of reducing carbon emissions. Carbon capture, however, is yet to be proven effective at scale.
The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) executive director, Fatih Birol, was also present at the Summit, where he addressed leaders. According to the IEA, Birol stated that “the clean energy economy is emerging much faster than many people realised”.
He also discussed “the actions needed to ensure that the geopolitically driven energy security risks around oil and gas that have become part of the global energy landscape […] are not repeated”.
The summit took place a week after the World Meteorological Association’s data showed that there is 66% chance of global temperatures breaching 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures within the next five years. Meteorologists have called on world leaders for more decisive measures to reduce global warming.