WASHINGTON – The leaders of the G-7 Club of Wealthy Nations took great symbolic steps to consolidate global climate change at their summit in Britain, but failed to explain how to address two of the most pressing challenges: phasing out coal and financing energy of developing countries reconciliation.
With palpable relief after four years as former President Donald Trump, the G-7 leaders praised President Joe Biden and tried to combine their own climate efforts with his domestic political agenda and bring them together under the umbrella of “better construction.” They also campaigned for the promise to save 30 percent of the land and oceans by 2030, a goal Biden had already set for the United States.
“You know, we last had a president who basically said, ‘It’s not a problem, global warming,'” Biden said at a press conference that crowned his trip to the Cornwall, England summit. “It is the existential problem that humanity is facing. And it has been treated that way.”
But climate analysts, who were looking at the G-7’s pledge to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, were annoyed after the summit that certain steps had not been taken that were generally considered essential for the summit Achievement of this goal were recognized. Continuing to burn coal to generate electricity, for example, is widely believed to be counterproductive to averting the worst effects of climate change.
“These are the seven countries that must lead on the front lines,” said Rachel Kyte, former World Bank special envoy on climate and dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School. Based on a sentence from the current European Football Championship, she added: “It was an open goal and you missed.”
The US and its G-7 allies have renewed their first promise in 2009 to collectively contribute $ 100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations reduce emissions and prepare for the growing effects of climate change. That $ 100 billion goal was never met. But the nations have committed to that number anyway and extended the schedule for reaching that number to 2025.
However, the joint communiqué that codified the agreements reached at the summit does not contain any new specific commitments on how countries would achieve this figure. The US is billions behind in writing checks for commitments it made in the past.
“They set a goal that has been around for a decade, but they haven’t given any clarity on how that will be achieved,” said David Waskow, international climate director for the nonprofit World Resources Institute.
Some more hopeful signs came in the hours after the summit ended: Canada announced it would double its annual pledge to $ 4.4 billion in US dollar terms by 2025, and Germany announced it would more than double its annual pledge by 2025 Triple $ 7 billion.
“That’s really good to see,” said Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The US, on the other hand, had “not put clear ambitions on the table” with regard to global funding, she added.
The G-7 countries have committed to halving their emissions by 2030 and removing them from their economies by 2050. That marked progress since the recent G-7 summits, but it didn’t move the ball away from countries, including the US that has already committed. The UK and the European Union have already pledged to cut much more on an even faster schedule.
And while leaders promised to “accelerate the transition from new sales of diesel and gasoline vehicles” to promoting electric vehicles, they did not set a deadline for phasing out fuel-guzzling vehicles, as some countries had hoped before the summit.
In the case of coal-fired power plants, the G-7 countries have set a deadline for next year in order to end the financing of the “undiminished international thermal coal-fired power generation”. This is significant considering that China, the world’s largest emitter, continues to fund new coal-fired power plants abroad.
However, the careful formulation of the G-7 leaders leaves room to continue funding coal-fired power plants that use carbon capture technology to sequester and store the carbon dioxide emitted when coal is burned.
Perhaps the most glaring omission of the G-7 climate agreement, environmentalists said, was the lack of a deadline for when nations will stop burning coal at home.
When the nations’ environment ministers met virtually in May to lay the foundation for this month’s summit, they jointly pledged to achieve “an overwhelmingly decarbonized power system by the 2030s” by the end of the next decade.
But when Biden and other leaders emerged from the meeting, that language was missing from their communiqué, which instead merely promised to “further accelerate the transition away from undiminished coal capacity” without specifying a date.
Jason Bordoff, a White House National Security Council official in the Obama administration, said criticism of the Biden administration on this point was inappropriate given that Biden has already set itself the goal of making US electricity climate neutral by 2035 Leak coal anyway, along with cleaner burning sources like natural gas.
“All of the rise in coal use is taking place in emerging and developing countries, so the G-7 agreement not to fund new coal projects is very important, along with a commitment to help nations move away from fossil fuels.” said Bordoff. Founding director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.
Still, the G-7 summit in Cornwall was possibly the last and best chance for the world’s wealthiest democracies to increase their influence over China and other major emitters by banding together on specific, common goals well before November. Then the heads of state and government will meet in Scotland for an eagerly awaited UN climate conference.
All of the remaining high-level global diplomacy venues prior to this conference – including the UN General Assembly in New York in September and the G-20 summit in Rome in October – will include China.