G7 summit: 9 things you need to know

Green groups have welcomed many of the environmental initiatives announced as part of the G7 summit over the weekend, but with many commitments short on detail they have called for the pledges to be followed up by solid policies. Here’s what you need to know.

Environmental protest groups gathered in Cornwall as the UK hosted the G7. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Green initiatives featured heavily at the G7 summit

The summit was billed as a chance to “build back better for the world”, granting developing countries improved access to financing for renewable energy projects. Leaders of the G7 countries attempted to forge a western rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, with a plan to mobilise billions of dollars to help developing countries tackle climate change. 

Leaders pledged to ‘dramatically increase spending on nature’ 

As part of a ‘nature compact’, the seven nations committed to working to “dramatically increase investment in nature from all sources”, and to ensure nature is accounted for in economic and financial decision-making. The summit also marked the first time the phrase ‘nature positive’ appeared on a G7 leaders’ statement.

Green groups called for more detail on the nature pact

While green groups welcomed the pact’s commitment to spend more on protecting nature, they called for more detail. Tanya Steele, chief executive of WWF, said that “now leaders must prove they can walk the talk when it comes to delivering on their promises for climate and nature by putting these paper promises into domestic law”.

G7 commits to 30% conservation target 

Alongside this, the G7 agreed to support the target to conserve or protect at least 30% of global land and at least 30% of the global ocean by the end of the decade.

Environment secretary George Eustice noted that this was the first time the G7 had made such a commitment. 

UK launches fund to protect the oceans

The prime minister Boris Johnson also launched the UK’s Blue Planet Fund - a £500m fund which aims to support countries to tackle unsustainable fishing, protect and restore coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs, and reduce marine pollution.

‘Disappointment’ for developing countries on climate finance 

A communiqué issued by the G7 promised that each member would “increase and improve” their contributions towards a promise made 11 years ago for rich nations to spend $100bn (£71bn) annually helping poorer countries adapt to global warming. However, while G7 leaders reaffirmed their promise of $100bn a year, specific pledges of new money came only from Canada and Germany. 

But positive news on ending coal power in developing countries

Think tank E3G said the G7’s $2bn commitment to enabling poorer countries to transition out of coal “strengthened the signal on ending public finance support for coal” and “heaped pressure on China”. The G7 also agreed to stop subsidising new coal-fuelled power generation in developing countries from next year.

The summit was seen as important precursor to COP26

The summit was hosted by the UK at Carbis Bay in Cornwall, just five months before the UK  is due to host COP26 in Glasgow, seen as the most important climate summit since Paris 2015. It also precedes the 2021 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15, which is due to take place in October, in Kunming, China.

But there is still ‘a very long way to go’ from Cornwall to Glasgow

Green groups have welcomed many of the environmental initiatives announced during the summit but have criticised a lack of detail and solid promises. Gareth Redmond-King, COP26 lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said that with just five months until COP26, there is still a very long way to go from Cornwall to Glasgow, with delivery of climate promises lacking. This includes country emissions pledges, where recent analysis shows the G7 barely half-way to committing what is needed.

Nick Mabey, chief executive E3G added: “G7 Leaders made some credible progress on climate action but failed to back this up with enough financial firepower to tackle the global COVID, economic and climate crises. This G7 leaves the success of COP26 on a knife edge.”