G7 Building Consensus for Faster End to Carbon Emissions

AP Photo/Hiro Komae
G-7 ministers on climate, energy and environment pose for a photo during its photo session in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday, April 15, 2023.

SAPPORO, Japan (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations wrapped up meetings Sunday on energy and environmental issues, amid calls from China and other developing countries for more help in phasing out fossil fuels.

The G-7 energy and environment ministers gathered in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo were expected to issue a communique encompassing climate and other environmental concerns as well as energy security given disruptions in supplies due to the war in Ukraine.

Officials attending the closed door talks indicated they expected a statement embracing a faster shift to renewable energy while slashing carbon emissions in the coming decade.

However, setting a timeline for phasing out coal-fired power plants remains a sticking point, the Kyodo News Service reported. Japan relies on coal for nearly one-third of its power generation and is also promoting the use of so-called clean coal, using technology to capture carbon emissions, to produce hydrogen — which produces only water when used as fuel.

The G-7 nations account for 40% of the world’s economic activity and a quarter of global carbon emissions. Their actions are critical, but so is their support for less wealthy nations often suffering the worst effects of climate change while having the fewest resources for mitigating such impacts.

Emissions in advanced economies are falling, though historically they have been higher — the United States alone accounts for about a quarter of historic global carbon emissions — while emerging markets and developing economies now account for more than two-thirds of global carbon emissions.

The president-designate for the next United Nations climate talks, the COP28, who was also attending the talks in Sapporo, issued a statement urging G-7 nations to increase financial support for developing countries’ transitions to clean energy.

Sultan Al Jaber urged fellow leaders to help deliver a “new deal” on climate finance to boost efforts to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and help protect biodiversity, especially in developing nations.

“We must make a fairer deal for the Global South,” he said. “Not enough is getting to the people and places that need it most.”

He said developed countries must follow through on a $100 billion pledge they made at the 2009 COP15 meeting. The next talks are to be held in Dubai in late November.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazilian President Liuz Inacio Lula da Silve issued a joint statement saying “We remain very concerned that funding provided by developed countries continues to fall short of the commitment of $100 billion per year.”

Lula met with Xi in Beijing on Friday.

Economic development is the first defense against climate change, Bhupender Yadav, India’s environment minister, said in a tweet.

“The global goal of reaching net zero by 2050 needs enhanced emission descaling by developed nations,” Yadav said. “This will provide space for countries like India to achieve the development required for its people, which will provide necessary defense against the impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and pollution.”

Al Jaber urged international financial institutions to do a better job of supporting efforts to minimize and mitigate climate change given the need to vastly and rapidly increase renewable power generation capacity.

While the G-7 energy and environment ministers were wrapping up their two-day meetings in Sapporo, farther south in the mountain city of Karuizawa G-7 foreign ministers were grappling with other shared concerns including regional security and the war in Ukraine.

Both gatherings are in advance of a G-7 summit to be held in Hiroshima in May.