All seven nations, as well as the EU, reaffirmed their commitment to limiting global heating to 1.5C. Photograph: Robert Brook/Getty Images All seven nations, as well as the EU, reaffirmed their commitment to limiting global heating to 1.5C. Photograph: Robert Brook/Getty Images

The G7’s green pledges: 10 things you need to know

All G7 countries committed to phasing out coal and fully decarbonising their energy sectors in the 2030s last week. Here’s what you need to know.

The meeting was lead by the UK

The UK, which holds the presidency of the G7 this year, as well as hosting the COP26 summit in November, hosted the two-day long meeting. Last month, the UK set the most ambitious target to cut emissions in the world, aiming to “raise the bar on tackling climate change” ahead of these talks.

The world’s richest nations agreed to limiting global heating to 1.5C

During the virtual meeting the climate and environment ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the USA, and the climate and environment commissioners of the EU reaffirmed their commitment to limiting global heating to 1.5C.

They also agreed to ending their financial support for coal development overseas

The UK, the US, the EU, France, Italy, Germany, and Canada were all united in calling for an end to financing fossil fuel development in poorer countries.

Japan, one of the world’s biggest sources of finance for coal power, only agreed in the final stages of the meeting, having raised concerns that China could step in and build coal-fired power plants overseas that were less efficient than Japanese designs.

China is not a member of the G7

However, China, another big financier of coal power in developing nations, was not part of the agreement. The country has yet to produce a nationally determined contribution (NDC) ahead of COP26 setting out how it will curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

South Korea, which has historically financed coal-fired power generation overseas, has already agreed to end the practice. This leaves China “as its sole major global funder”, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) noted.

Financing for coal will still be allowed in exceptional circumstances

The G7 communique contains a caveat that would allow financing for coal in “limited circumstances at the discretion of each country”.

There are concerns the agreement does not go far enough

The agreement comes days after the International Energy Agency (IEA) called for an end to new fossil fuel development this year. It said nations must stop all new coal power plant and mines investments now, phase-out coal by 2030, and achieve 100% clean power by 2035. 

The UK has called on all countries to phase out coal for power generation but its efforts have been overshadowed by a row over a possible new coal mine in Cumbria, now the subject of a public inquiry.

John Kerry, the US climate envoy, said the US would phase out unabated coal-fired power.

The UN called for enhanced NDCs for COP26

Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the UN, told the meeting: “We are running out of time to bend the emissions curve and cut emissions by 45% globally by 2030 and that’s from 2010 levels. 

“This means all main emitters must deliver enhanced NDCs this year with concrete and credible targets that we can follow through to 2030.” There is also growing pressure on countries such as Australia, which has still not set a net zero target.

The G7 also committed to protecting 30% of Land and Oceans by 2030 

In the communiqué, the G7 members assert their commitment to “conserving or protecting at least 30% of global land and at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030 to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and address climate change”. The commitment comes in the leadup to a meeting in Kunming, China this year, when delegates from 190 countries will agree on an action plan for ending the biodiversity crisis.

And to ‘mainstreaming’ nature into financial and economic decision-making

Drawing on the Dasgupta Review, among other reports,the G7 said it recognised the harmful effect of “some subsidies” on the environment and people’s livelihoods. It said it would  therefore commit to reviewing relevant policies with recognised harmful impacts on nature and will take action “to deliver nature positive outcomes”.

All eyes now turn to June’s G7 meetings now

The ECIU said it would be Rishi Sunak’s job to deliver on the promise on climate finance when he hosts a meeting of G7 finance ministers. A week later, it notes, Boris Johnson will be expected to lead the G7 heads of government to affirm bold pledges on climate action to match delivery on finance.

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