On Friday 21 May 2021, the Climate and Environment Ministers of the G7 made historic climate, biodiversity and environment commitments.
All G7 members (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US) signed up to the global ‘30×30’ initiative to conserve or protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and at least 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030, and committed to ‘30×30’ nationally.
This year is already the first-ever ‘net-zero G7’, with all countries committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest, with deep emissions reduction targets in the 2020s.
Taking this further by supporting the transition to green energy overseas, the group also agreed to phase out government funding for fossil fuel projects internationally – following a leading commitment made by the UK in December.
As a first step, the G7 countries will end all new finance for coal power by the end of 2021, matched by increased support for clean energy alternatives like solar and wind.
It was also agreed to accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity and to an overwhelmingly decarbonised power system in the 2030s.
Associate Professor Christian Downie from the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at The Australian National University said the end of public financing for overseas coal projects will make it very difficult for any country to fund new coal plants.
“The restrictions come on top of a previous commitment from OECD countries in 2015, including Australia, to limit finance for coal.”
“This is good news for the climate given new coal plants are incompatible with global efforts to address climate change under the Paris Agreement,” Associate Professor Downie said.
“It is also good news for taxpayers given that there is a real risk that any new coal projects could become stranded assets posing significant risks for affected countries.”
Dr Andrew King from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes and the School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Melbourne said while the end to support for overseas coal development by the G7 is a step in the right direction, far more rapid decarbonisation is necessary to meet the Paris Agreement.
“The effects of global warming through increasing heatwaves, sea ice loss, sea level rise, and coral bleaching and death, among many other impacts, are already clear to see. It is therefore imperative that global warming is kept to as low a level as possible by taking further steps to drastically reduce carbon emissions,” Dr King said.
A focus on biodiversity
Another measure the G7 agreed on is increasing the quantity of finance for climate action, including for nature, in order to meet the $100 billion per annum target to support developing countries.
In addition to this, the G7 committed to champion a range of ambitious and effective global biodiversity targets, including the agreement of an ambitious and effective global biodiversity framework at CBD COP15 later this year.
Measures to tackle global deforestation were also secured, with the G7 committing to increase support for sustainable supply chains that decouple agricultural production from deforestation and forest degradation, including production stemming from illegal land conversion.
UK Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: “For the first time, the G7 has committed to halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity by 2030.”
“This is a major step forward before we host the G7 in Cornwall next month and is a sign of the dedication to accelerate action within the G7 – and beyond – to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.”
“We have seen tremendous progress this week and it has been great to see countries working together to raise our ambition and lead by example, each playing our part.”