G7: Do the Big Seven Lack Determination and Commitment to Climate Change?

The G7 energy and environment ministers met in Japan. Although they have agreed to speed up efforts to phase out the use of fossil fuels and coal, they did not set a fixed deadline for doing so. We tell you about this meeting and the decisions made.

Flags on the building where the G7 took place

Photo: TW-G7

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: G7: ¿les falta decisión y compromiso ante el cambio climático a los siete grandes?

The G7 intergovernmental forum, or the Group of Seven, which brings together the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, held a session in the city of Sapporo, Japan. The Environment Ministers of these economic powers met at this event. Although the leaders have agreed to accelerate efforts to phase out the use of fossil fuels, such as coal, no concrete method or deadline was established before the already established 2050.

The official communiqué issued after the meeting contains 92 points. “We underscore our commitment, in the context of global efforts, to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels to achieve net-zero emission energy systems by 2050,” the countries indicated in this joint statement. An outstanding agreement is to reduce CO₂ emissions by at least 50% by 2035 from its vehicles, taking 2000 levels as a reference. Thus, it is expected that by 2035 all vehicles for sale in these countries will be electric.

The use of nuclear energy was one of the most problematic points of the meeting. While the host country intends to boost it, Germany disconnected its last 3 reactors in the same week. "Atomic power has given electricity to 3 generations, but its residues will remain dangerous for the next 30,000 generations," said Steffi Lemke, the country's Environment Minister. Thus, the final document of the G7 is limited to stating that the countries that implement this type of energy will comply with safety standards.

We recommend you read: IPCC: The Survival Guide for Humanity

Not everyone is happy

From the institutional framework, the agreements reached at this G7 meeting have been celebrated. However, not everything is conformity. Representatives of civil society, activists and environmental organizations have pointed out the lack of decision and the "facelift" that the great powers are trying to do.

The campaign for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, made up of a network of more than 1,800 civil society organizations, has responded to the G7 statement by questioning its decisions. "Once again, the most advanced economies demonstrate their lack of political will to address the root cause of the climate crisis," the press release states. It also notes that despite announcements of support for renewable energy: "The decision of G7 ministers includes loophole tactics to allow new coal production with unproven carbon capture and storage technologies, and uses the argument of the energy consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine to support new gas ventures."

In fact, in point 74 of the official communiqué entitled "International financing of fossil fuels", there is talk of reducing investment in this sector, but it does not specifically state that it will be prohibited. In fact, it indicates that it has been carried out "except in limited circumstances clearly defined by each country and consistent with a warming limit of 1.5°C". In addition, there is talk that at this point "security" and "geopolitical interests" are crucial. And these tend to get along with economic interests rather than environmental and scientific ones.

It is also necessary to remember that countries like Japan, Germany, or the United States are among those that export the most garbage to other regions, generally impoverished.

One thing evident in recent G7 meetings has been their constant criticism of Russia and China. Although these criticisms have compelling reasons, it seems that the world situation has become an excuse to have someone else to blame and evade one's own responsibilities. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has acted as a backdrop to hide and justify various environmentally damaging actions taken by the G7 governments.

On the other hand, the Green Peace organization has denounced that the G7 has made a decision contrary to science, environmental protection and international law. The G7 nations have supported the discharge into the Pacific Ocean of radioactive wastewater from Fukushima. "The marine environment is under extreme pressure from climate change, overfishing and resource extraction. However, the G7 believes it is acceptable to support plans to deliberately dump nuclear waste into the ocean," said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist. of Greenpeace East Asia, in the official statement. This fact would be a violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. On the other hand, Green Peace argues that it is an attempt by Japan to "wash" the nuclear catastrophe, to continue promoting this type of energy.