The Group of Seven (G7) countries have sent a clear signal that they want a strong international climate agreement this year that puts the world on a much better path to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. The G7 includes some of the largest developed economies in the world - so what they outline can have a powerful impact on the overall shape of the Paris agreement. These countries committed to take immediate steps to cut their emissions, strengthen emissions reduction efforts over time in line with what the science shows, and build a robust international system. This agreement adds much needed momentum to securing strong international action this year.
The G7 Communique outlines several important steps on international climate action. The Communique:
- Outlines a clear medium and long-term trajectory to decarbonize the global economy. The G7 Communique stresses the need to decarbonize the global economy before the end of this century-- sending a clear signal that we intend to cut emissions even further in the coming years. This is in line with what scientists have emphasized is needed to hold temperature increases to less than two degrees Celsius (3.6Â°F). The targets countries have set for themselves this year for deeper emissions cuts in the 2025/2030 timeframe are essential to ensure that we are heading in the right direction to address climate change. Unfortunately we know that these commitments aren't likely to be enough so we'll need countries, companies, states, cities, and others to increase their efforts over time. So the country commitments this year should be viewed as the floor of ambition - not the ceiling. As the Communique states: "we emphasize that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century...as a common vision for a global goal of greenhouse gas emissions reductions we support sharing with all parties to the UNFCCC the upper end of the latest IPCC recommendation of 40 to 70 % reductions by 2050 compared to 2010..."
- Stresses the need for strong transparency and accountability provisions to help ensure countries live up to their climate commitments. The Copenhagen/Cancun agreements built a set of systems to provide more real-time information on the progress that countries are making towards their emission reduction commitments and tools to hold them accountable. Strengthening this system in the Paris Agreement will be a key issue since we only benefit from emission reduction commitments that are actually met. On this the G7 Communique states: "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".
- Reaffirms the commitment to help mobilize significant resources to assist developing countries in building low-carbon and climate resilient economies. As the Communique states: "We will continue our efforts to provide and mobilize increased finance, from public and private sources, and to demonstrate that we and others are well on our way to meet the USD 100 bn goal..."
- Details the need to secure an agreement under the Montreal Protocol to phase-down HFCs - a potent climate pollutant. Countries are making some progress towards securing a phase-down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. The G7 Communique outlines their commitment to: "continue our efforts to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and call on all Parties to the Montreal Protocol to negotiate an amendment this year to phase down HFCs and on donors to assist developing countries in its implementation".
- Creates new tools and goals to help the poorest citizens and countries become more resilient to climate change. The G7 Communique aims: "to increase by up to 400 million the number of people in the most vulnerable developing countries who have access to direct or indirect insurance coverage against the negative impact of climate change related hazards by 2020 and support the development of early warning systems in the most vulnerable countries".
- Supports accelerating clean energy deployment in Africa. Africa is in grave need of new sources of energy as a large share of the population lacks access to modern energy services. So the G7 Communique commits to: "accelerate access to renewable energy in Africa and developing countries in other regions with a view to reducing energy poverty and mobilizing substantial financial resources..."
- Commits to continue efforts on public financing of overseas coal. Unfortunately the G7 Communique didn't commit to end public financing of overseas coal projects as we recommended in our recent report. Key G7 countries like Japan and Germany have provided a significant amount of funding to these projects and are still resisting the necessary reforms.
The G7 countries have not done enough - some members like Japan and Canada have floated weak climate targets as a part of the Paris Agreement. But hopefully these countries will look at their targets in light of what the science outlines and increase their commitment to decarbonize their economies. Hopefully they will follow through on their pledges with real action on-the-ground in their countries.
Let's hope that this political signal from the G7 helps the world achieve the necessary actions to put us on a much better path this year to address climate change.