G7 nations pledge to deliver near-zero carbon electricity grids by 2035

Climate ministers of G7 nations have this afternoon pledged to deliver “predominately decarbonised” electricity systems by 2035, while taking “concrete and timely steps” to phase out unabated coal power generation.

In a communique published at the close of a three-day Energy and Environment Ministerial meeting in Berlin this week, the world’s largest climate set out their priorities for tackling the intersecting, biodivers, and pollution crises, and responding to the disruption to energy markets wrought by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The document sets out G7 countries’ ambition to deliver near-zero carbon electricity grids by 2035, citing the need to respond to climate scientists’ calls for a drastic reduction in fossil fuel demand so as to stabilize global temperatures.

However, a commitment to phase out coal powered electricity by 2030 that was reportedly included in a draft version of the agreement has been struck from the final communique, with the Ministers declining to set a firm coal phase out deadline.

Instead, the G7 countries have pledged to take “concrete and timely steps towards the goal of an eventual phase-out of domestic unabated coal power generation”.

Reports earlier this week indicated proposals for fixed dates for decarbonised grids and coal-power phase outs were being met with fierce opposition from Japan and the US.

However, the G7 ministers have pledged to “rapidly scale up the necessary technologies and policies” that could accelerate the clean energy transition, noting that they “acknowledge” the International Enery Agency’s net zero scenario which calculates that G7 must invest at least $1.3tr in renewable energy, including a tripling of investments in power and electricity networks, between 2021 and 2030.

In addition, the climate ministers pledged to end all direct public support for overseas unabated fossil fuel energy projects by the end of 2022, declaring that all government support for unabated thermal coal-fired power generation overseas had come to an end in 2021.

They have called on the World Bank and other development banks to commit to end coal financing and submit investment plans aligned with Paris Agreement by the COP27 Climate Summit set to take place in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt this autumn.

In a speech delivered at the close of the summit, COP26 President Alok Sharma commended ministers for doubling down on commitments set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact signed by countries at COP26 Climate Summit last autumn.

“I welcome the significant leadership and unity of the G7 has shown, to go further than last year on fossil fuel finance, by committing to cease G7 international fossil fuel finance by the end of the year,” he said. “We also have the G7’s first coal phase-out goal and endorsement of the Glasgow Breakthroughs.”

However, Sharma stressed that ministers now needed to ensures measures designed to manage “immediate and acute energy needs” did not ‘lock in’ medium and long-term emissions. “Looking ahead, we must aim to arrive in Egypt having gone further,” he said. “In the coming months, this group must continue to discuss the targets for 100 per cent net zero power by 2035, 100 per cent of new car sales being zero emission by early next decade, and clear targets in industrial sectors.”

The communique notes that reducing European Union’s dependence of fossil gas from Russia is of “special urgency”, arguing the Ukraine crisis and subsequent turmoil in energy markets has strengthened G7 countries’ resolve to accelerate progress towards net zero by 2050.

“We emphasize that an accelerated clean energy transition is key to improving security, stability and affordability of energy supply by reducing the supply security and climate risks associated with dependence on fossil fuel energy sources and making energy more widely accessible, enhancing industrial competitiveness and protecting energy consumers,” the text states.

But it notes that investment in liquified fossil gas that can displace gas piped to Europe from Russia also had an important role in delivering energy security and protecting consumers from further energy market volatility.

These fossil fuel investments will be made “in a consistent manner with climate objectives and without creating lock-in effects”, the ministers said.

The communique reiterates the group’s previous commitment to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, and notes that any relief measures designed to bring down the cost of fossil fuels for consumers in the wake of Russia’s attack of Ukraine will be “temporary and targeted”.

The summit has wrapped just a day after UK government unveiled a tax break for fossil fuel companies investing in new domestic extraction projects, an incentive many have claimed is at odds with its Glasgow Climate Pledge commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

On climate finance, the G7 ministers have confirmed their intent to replicate the ‘just energy transition partnership’ brokered between rich nations and South Africa at the COP26 Climate Summit in other regions that need additional financial support to help them transition away from fossil fuels.

“The Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa launched at COP 26 provides an example of how innovative multi-donor partnerships and G7 coordination with countries committed to advance ambitious reforms can work to mobilise finance to deliver emission reductions,” the communique states. “Inspired by this experience […] We aim to support several developing countries and emerging that demonstrate a high level of ambition in developing and implementing a country-led, accelerated, sustainable and socially energy that contributes to net zero emissions.”

The statement comes just a week after Sharma indicated to men that discussions around potential Just Energy Transition Deals with Indonesia and Vietnam were underway.

And in his speech today, Sharma said he hoped more detailed would be revealed over the coming months. “Following the Just Energy Transition Partnership for South Africa, which we announced at COP26, we have agreed to work on other such ambitious partnerships and I very much hope we will be able to announce some of these by the time we get to Sharm el- Sheikh [COP27].”

Elsewhere, the communique sets out ministers’ support for the planned global deal for nature that is expected to be brokered at the much-delayed COP15 Biodiversity Summit, now set to take place in China this autumn. The G7 vowed to “substantially increase national and international funding for nature by 2025” and support a target in the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, which would ensure all public and private financial flows are aligned with sustainability objectives.

The communique also calls on multilateral development banks to pledge “concrete amounts” for biodiversity ahead of the pivotal meet and

The G7 also pledged to step up activities that reduce deforestation caused by consumer products and food and drink supply chains, pledging to review supply chain regulations for commodities most linked to deforestation by the end of 2023.

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