Since 2005, the Group of Seven (G7) countries have recognized the threat of climate change and the need for a global agreement to address the issue. The Trump Administration is reportedly trying to weaken or eliminate any strong language on climate change in the upcoming G7 leaders statement. It would be extremely rare for this major set of developed countries to not send a clear signal regarding climate change.
These leader statements typically get stronger over time so it is important to compare the 2017 statement to the least progressive statement in 2005—when President Bush was in office—with the most progressive statement from last year—right after countries had agreed to the historic Paris Agreement.
- From the 2005 statement: “Climate change is a serious and long-term challenge… It is in our global interests to work together, and in partnership with major emerging economies…The world’s developed economies have a responsibility to act.”
- From 2016 statement: “Welcoming the historic achievement in Paris, we reaffirm not only our continuous commitment in our global efforts against climate change, but also our determination to maintain the momentum of COP21 and ensure swift and successful implementation of the Paris Agreement…”
Will the G7 countries agree to a blank statement, weaker statement, or recognize the threat of climate change and the need for a strong global response reflected in the Paris Agreement?
Here are samplings of each of the statements on climate change from the G7/G8 since 2005 (note that the G8 became the G7 when Russia was kicked out)—focused around: (1) the threat of climate change; and (2) how the international community should address this challenge.
1.The Threat of Climate Change
2016 Summit in Japan: Having just come on the heels of the historic climate agreement in Paris there was no need for a recognition of the basic facts on climate science and the impacts that will occur if the world fails to act aggressively.
2015 Summit in Germany: “Urgent and concrete action is needed to address climate change, as set out in the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report.”
2014 Summit in Belgium: “Urgent and concrete action is needed to address climate change…”
2013 Summit in United Kingdom: “Climate change is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and well-being...We recognize climate change as a contributing factor in increased economic and security risks globally.”
2012 Summit in the U.S.: “We agree to continue our efforts to address climate change and recognize the need for increased mitigation ambition in the period to 2020, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science.”
2011 Summit in France: “Tackling climate change is a global priority…”
2010 Summit in Canada: “Among environmental issues, climate change remains top of mind…”
2009 Summit in Italy: “We recognize the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2°C.”
2008 Summit in Japan: “We are committed to avoiding the most serious consequences of climate change..”
2007 Summit in Germany: “We face serious challenges in tackling climate change and achieving sustainable development globally.”
2006 Summit in Russia: “We also affirm our commitment to the UNFCCC's ultimate objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
2005 Summit in the U.K. (with President Bush in office): “Climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe. We know that increased need and use of energy from fossil fuels, and other human activities, contribute in large part to increases in greenhouse gases associated with the warming of our Earth’s surface.…”
2.The Need for a Strong Global Response to Climate Change
2016: “Welcoming the historic achievement in Paris, we reaffirm not only our continuous commitment in our global efforts against climate change, but also our determination to maintain the momentum of COP21 and ensure swift and successful implementation of the Paris Agreement including the long-term aims on mitigation, adaptation, and finance…We commit to take the lead by early, transparent and robust implementation of our nationally determined contributions, and promoting increased ambition over time…Recognizing that we, together with other donor countries, are making steady progress toward achieving the goal of jointly mobilizing USD 100 billion annually by 2020 in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, we continue our efforts to provide and mobilize increased climate finance from public and private sources.”
2015: In the lead-in to the Paris Agreement the G7 set forth the broad outlines of the kind of agreement that they wanted finalized in December 2015 by stating: “We affirm our strong determination to adopt at the Climate Change Conference in December in Paris this year (COP21) a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) applicable to all parties that is ambitious, robust, inclusive and reflects evolving national circumstances…The agreement should enhance transparency and accountability including through binding rules at its core to track progress towards achieving targets, which should promote increased ambition over time. This should enable all countries to follow a low-carbon and resilient development pathway in line with the global goal to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C…Mindful of this goal and considering the latest IPCC results, we emphasize that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century.
2014: “We reaffirm our support for the Copenhagen Accord commitments to mobilize USD 100 billion per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources, both public and private, to address the climate mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries in the context of their meaningful and transparent mitigation actions. We welcome the adoption of the Green Climate Fund's operating rules and the decision to commence its initial resource mobilization in the coming months.”
2013: “We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020 and to pursue our low carbon path afterwards, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2oC above pre-industrial levels…We will pursue ambitious and transparent action, both domestically and internationally…”
2012: “We strongly support the outcome of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban to implement the Cancun agreements and the launch of the Durban Platform, which we welcome as a significant breakthrough toward the adoption by 2015 of a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all Parties, developed and developing countries alike.”
2011: “We express our determination to act as part of a larger global effort to address this threat as well as our solidarity with developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable…We reaffirm our willingness to share with all countries the goal of achieving at least a 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050, recognizing that this implies that global emissions need to peak as soon as possible and decline thereafter. We are cooperating to that end. As part of this effort, we also support a goal of developed countries reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in aggregate by 80% or more by 2050, compared to 1990 or more recent years.”
2010: “We strongly support the negotiations underway within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).”
2009: “This is a crucial year for taking rapid and effective global action to combat climate change…We must seize this decisive opportunity to achieve a truly ambitious global consensus…We reconfirm our strong commitment to the UNFCCC negotiations and to the successful conclusion of a global, wide-ranging and ambitious post-2012 agreement in Copenhagen, involving all countries…”
2008: “We reaffirm our commitment to take strong leadership in combating climate change and in this respect, welcome decisions taken in Bali as the foundation for reaching a global agreement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process by 2009. We are committed to its successful conclusion. Enhanced commitments or actions by all major economies are essential for tackling climate change.”
2007: “We reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to its objective through both mitigation and adaptation in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities…we need a flexible, fair and effective global framework and concerted international action.”
2006: Countries were beginning to debate the outlines of a post-2012 global response to climate change, they stated: “We will continue to work to reduce greenhouse gas and deal effectively with the challenge of climate change…We welcome the progress made at [COP-11]…where we committed to engage in a dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the convention.”
2005: “It is in our global interests to work together, and in partnership with major emerging economies, to find ways to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and our other key objectives, including the promotion of low-emitting energy systems. The world’s developed economies have a responsibility to act.”