The G7 climate, energy and environment ministers made the new commitment in a 40-page statement at the end of their meeting in Berlin, in which they also committed to an eventual phase-out of coal-fired power generation, but they did not give a deadline for when they would do it.
However, the decision on decarbonisation leaves countries open to continuing to use fossil fuels if their greenhouse gases are ‘decreased’, meaning they emit less when burned or ‘captured’. Current technology cannot capture 100% of the greenhouse gases emitted from burning fossil fuels.
The G7 includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, in addition to the European Union. Its energy and climate decisions are often pitched to the broader group of the G20, which together produce 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The G20 will meet in Bali in November.
The decision was made in the context of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has given a renewed sense of urgency, particularly in Europe, to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy sources.
The statement urged countries not to block fossil fuel subsidies designed to weather the impact of the conflict.
“In view of the Russian attack on Ukraine, financial support for companies and citizens affected by the sharp increase in fossil fuel prices is now on the political agenda of several countries,” he said. “However, we aim for our relief measures to be temporary and targeted, and we reaffirm our commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.”
The statement also reaffirmed an earlier commitment to completely halt international fossil fuel subsidies by the end of the year.
German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck told a news conference on Friday that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means the world cannot contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is the threshold of temperature rise that scientists say is needed to prevent climate change from worsening and pushing crucial ecosystems to tipping points.
“Anything we can do will not be enough to get to 1.5 maximum global warming. We should not say now that if we cannot reach the goal, we must give up. It’s the opposite,” he said.
“The only question we have to face today is how we can act, consistently, at the political level, in the years to come.”
Phil MacDonald, chief operating officer of the climate and energy research group Ember, said the decision had been “a game changer for the global electricity transition”.
“Science shows that decarbonizing electricity by 2035 is the fastest and cheapest way to achieve net zero,” he said, referring to a goal in which the world emits as few greenhouse gases as possible and offsets those that are impossible to avoid. Developed nations generally aim to reach net zero by 2050.
“The G7 has taken a step in the right direction today by setting a date for largely decarbonizing energy sectors,” said Maria Pastukhova, senior policy adviser at think tank E3G. “It is a key signal to the rest of the world that the current crisis and efforts to secure new fossil supplies will have a time limit. It validates that, in recent months, the decarbonisation of the energy sector has gone from being a climate objective to being a security objective.”
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