Climate and energy ministers from the Group of Seven rich democracies pledged to largely end their reliance on coal and other fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035, responding to worries about climate change and energy security in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine.
The decision means the G-7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — will "drastically increase electricity generated by renewable energies, as well as the use of renewables in heating, cooling and transportation," the G-7 ministers agreed on Friday at the end of a summit in Berlin.
"We acknowledge that a greenhouse gas neutral energy supply with strong reliance on renewable energy is economically sensible, technically feasible, reliable and safe," they said in a 39-page communiqué. "We further commit to a goal of achieving predominantly decarbonized electricity sectors by 2035."
Under the agreement, G-7 nations committed to taking "concrete and timely steps towards the goal of an eventual phaseout of domestic unabated coal power generation," they said.
That includes moves to ensure that all new road vehicles in their countries are “predominantly” zero-emissions vehicles — electric cars — by 2030, and to accelerate their use of clean energy sources to replace Russian natural gas.
First-time commitment on coal
Their host, German Economic and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, whose nation holds the revolving G-7 presidency, said the group understands they must tackle global crises together, even in difficult times, and send a strong message for more climate action.
"The G-7 have made a first-time commitment to the goal of predominantly decarbonized electricity sectors by 2035. Beyond that, they have committed for the first time to phasing out coal-fired power generation," he said. "This is enormous progress, which is more important than ever in times like these and in view of Russia’s terrible war of aggression against Ukraine."
The group of wealthy nations also recognized for the first time they must scale up support for vulnerable countries in handling loss and damage from climate change. That has been a point of major contention between rich and poor nations, and could provide momentum headed into the next round of U.N. climate talks slated for Egypt in November.
"The G-7 countries are responsible for a large share of global resource consumption and thus also for the associated damage to the climate and environment," said Germany's Environment Minister Steffi Lemke. "It is imperative for us to use the resources of our planet more sustainably and judiciously. The G-7 accept this responsibility."
A U.N. Security Council debate in March drew attention to the peace dividends of preparing for a warmer world, but the biggest spotlight fell on rich nations' decade-old broken promise of US$100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations.