G-7 pledges put coal on notice, could boost climate aid

BERLIN (AP) — Officials from the wealthy Group of Seven countries announced on Friday that they would aim to largely end greenhouse gas emissions from their power sectors by 2035, making it highly unlikely that these countries burn coal for electricity beyond that date.

G-7 ministers meeting in Berlin also announced a goal of having a “highly decarbonized road sector by 2030”, meaning electric vehicles would dominate new car sales by the end of the day. of the decade.

And in a move to end the recurring conflict between rich and poor nations in international climate negotiations, the G-7 has recognized for the first time the need to provide developing countries with additional financial assistance to address the loss and damage caused by global warming. .

The agreements, which will be presented to leaders next month at the G-7 summit in Elmau, Germany, have been widely welcomed by climate activists.

“The 2035 objective for decarbonizing the electricity sector is a real step forward. In practice, this means countries must phase out coal by 2030 at the latest,” said Luca Bergamaschi, director of Rome-based campaign group ECCO.

Coal is a highly polluting fossil fuel that is responsible for a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. While there are ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, experts say it’s nearly impossible to reduce them to zero, meaning it will likely have to be the number one fossil fuel. to be eliminated.

G-7 members Britain, France and Italy have already set deadlines to stop burning coal for electricity within the next few years. Germany and Canada aim for 2030; Japan wants more time; while the Biden administration has set a goal of ending the use of fossil fuels for power generation in the United States by 2035.

A common goal would put pressure on other big polluters to follow suit and build on the compromise deal achieved at last year’s UN climate summit, where nations simply pledged to ‘phase down’ rather than ‘phase out’ coal – with no set date.

US climate envoy John Kerry described the agreements reached in Berlin as “very comprehensive and forward-looking”.

“I think it will help lay the groundwork for what needs to happen at the G-20,” he told The Associated Press, referring to a meeting later this year of the expanded group of 20 leading economies. and emerging, which are responsible for 80% of global emissions.

It will be difficult to get all G-20 countries to adhere to the ambitious goals set by some of the more advanced economies, as countries like ChinaIndia and Indonesia remain heavily dependent on coal.

Under pressure to increase financial assistance to poor countries, G-7 ministers in Berlin said they recognize that “action and support for vulnerable countries, vulnerable populations and groups must be further intensified” .

This includes governments and businesses “providing increased support to avoid, minimize and address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change”, they said.

Developing countries have for years demanded a clear commitment to receive funds to deal with the destruction caused by climate change. Rich nations resisted the ideahowever, lest they be held liable for costly disasters related to their broadcasts.

“After years of roadblocks, the G-7 finally recognizes that it must financially help poor countries cope with climate-related loss and damage,” said David Ryfisch of the Berlin-based environmental campaign group Germanwatch.

“But this recognition is not enough, they need to put real money on the table,” he added. “It is now up to (German Chancellor Olaf) Scholz to mobilize significant financial commitments from leaders at the Elmau summit.”

German Energy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said the 40-page statement could not hide the fact that G-7 countries have long been lagging behind in the fight against global warming.

“But we’re trying to make up for those things that haven’t gone so well in the past,” he said. “Including on climate finance.

Speaking at a former coal depot, later converted to a gas storage facility and now home to clean energy startups, Habeck also highlighted the commitment of G-7 countries to end what it called the “absurdity” of fossil fuel subsidies in the coming years.

Separately, the United States and Germany on Friday signed an agreement to deepen their bilateral cooperation on the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The agreement will see the two countries work together to develop and deploy technologies that will accelerate this clean energy transition, particularly in the area of ​​offshore wind power, zero-emission vehicles and hydrogen.

The United States and Germany also pledged to work together to promote ambitious climate policies and energy security around the world.

Kerry said both countries aim to reap the benefits of the clean energy shift early, through the creation of new jobs and business opportunities in the growing renewable energy market.

These markets depend on common standards on what hydrogen can be classified as “green”, for example. Officials will now work on a common definition to ensure that hydrogen produced on one side of the Atlantic can be sold on the other side.

Habeck said the agreement reflected the urgency of tackling global warming. Scientists have said deep reductions in emissions must occur around the world in this decade if the targets set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement are to be met.

“Time is literally running out,” Habeck said, calling climate change “the challenge of our political generation.”

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