G7 pledges put coal under scrutiny, could boost climate aid - Seattle Times

G7 pledges put coal under scrutiny, could boost climate aid – Seattle Times

Berlin (AFP) – Officials from the Group of Seven wealthy nations announced Friday that they will aim to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their energy sectors by 2035, making it less likely that those nations will burn coal to generate electricity. after that date.

Ministers from the Group of Seven nations meeting in Berlin also announced a goal to have a “highly decarbonized road sector by 2030”, which means electric cars will dominate new car sales by the end of the decade.

In a move aimed at ending the recurring conflict between rich and poor countries during international climate talks, the Group of Seven industrialized countries recognized for the first time the need to provide developing countries with additional financial aid to face the losses and damages caused by global warming. .

Climate activists have welcomed the agreements, which will be presented to leaders next month at the G7 summit in Elmau, Germany.

“The 2035 goal to decarbonize the energy sector is a real breakthrough. In practical terms, this means that countries need to phase out coal by 2030 at the latest.

Coal is a highly polluting fossil fuel and is responsible for one fifth of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. While there are ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, experts say it’s nearly impossible to reduce it to zero, meaning it will likely be the first fossil fuel to be phased out.

The members of the Group of Seven, Britain, France and Italy, have already set themselves deadlines to stop burning coal for electricity generation in the next few years. Germany and Canada aim for 2030; Japan wants more time. The Biden administration has set a goal of ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity in the United States by 2035.

The common goal would pressure other major polluters to follow suit and build on the compromise agreement reached at last year’s UN climate summit, in which countries only committed to “phasing out” rather than to “phasing out” of coal – with no specific date.

US climate envoy John Kerry described the agreements reached in Berlin as “very comprehensive and forward-leaning”.

“I think it will help lay the foundation for what needs to happen in the G-20,” he told The Associated Press, referring to a meeting later this year of the broader group of 20 leading and emerging economies, which are responsible for 80% of global emissions.

It will be difficult to persuade all G-20 countries to sign on to the ambitious goals set by some of the more advanced economies, as countries such as China, India and Indonesia still rely heavily on coal.

Under pressure to increase their financial aid to poor countries, ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations said in Berlin that they recognize that “work and support for vulnerable countries, populations and vulnerable groups need to be expanded further.”

They said this includes governments and companies “providing enhanced support in terms of avoiding, minimizing and addressing losses and damages associated with the negative effects of climate change.”

For years, developing countries have been demanding a clear commitment that they will receive funds to counter the devastation wrought by climate change. Rich countries resisted the idea, however, for fear of being held responsible for the costly disasters associated with their emissions.

“After years of stumbling blocks, the G7 has finally realized that it needs to financially support poor countries in addressing climate-related loss and damage,” said David Ryfisch of Berlin-based environmental campaign group Germanwatch.

“But this recognition is not enough, they need to put actual money on the table,” he added. “It is now up to (German Chancellor Olaf) Schulz to mobilize significant financial commitments by the leaders at the Elmau Summit.”

Germany’s Energy and Climate Minister, Robert Habeck, said the 40-page statement could not hide the fact that G7 countries had long been lagging behind in the fight against global warming.

“But we’re trying to make up for those things that didn’t go well in the past,” he said. “Including climate finance.”

Speaking at a former coal depository, later converted into a gas storage facility and now home to clean energy startups, Habeck also highlighted the G7 nations’ pledge to end what he called the “absurdity” of fossil fuel subsidies in the coming years.

Separately, the United States and Germany signed an agreement on Friday to deepen their bilateral cooperation on the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The agreement will see the two countries cooperate to develop and deploy technologies that will accelerate the transition of clean energy, particularly in the field of offshore wind energy, zero-emissions vehicles and hydrogen.

The United States and Germany also pledged to cooperate in promoting ambitious climate policies and energy security around the world.

Both countries are aiming to reap the benefits of switching to clean energy early, Kerry said, by creating new jobs and opportunities for companies in the growing market for renewables.

Such markets rely on common criteria for what hydrogen might be classified as “green,” for example. Officials will now work toward a common definition to ensure that hydrogen produced on one side of the Atlantic can be sold on the other.

Habeck said the agreement reflects the urgency of tackling global warming. Sharp emissions cuts must happen worldwide this decade if targets set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement are to be met, scientists have said.

“Time is literally running out,” Habeck said, calling climate change “the challenge of our political generation.”

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Follow all AP stories on climate change issues at https://apnews.com/hub/climate

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