‘A frustrating outcome’: Little new on climate in G7 leaders’ agreement

Green economy groups have expressed disappointment in the agreement reached by G7 nations in Italy this week, which largely reiterates climate and environmental commitments already made through past international forums.

‘A frustrating outcome’: Little new on climate in G7 leaders’ agreement

Image: G7 Italia

The G7 leaders met in Fasano, Italy, between Thursday (13 June) and Saturday (15 June) this week. The tone, observers have stated, has been markedly different this year with an election on the horizon for G7 members France, the UK and the US – plus the recent EU elections front-of-mind.

Nonetheless, the leaders sought to put up a united front on the global stage. Russia is mentioned 61 times in the agreed communique, with world leaders agreeing to “build on the comprehensive package of sanctions and economic measures already in place” which penalize Russia. A pledge to unlock $50bn for Ukraine, from interests earned on immobilized Russian sovereign assets, was also made.

China is mentioned 30 times in the communique. The nation is called upon to “step up efforts” to work towards “constructive and stable relations” plus collaboration on “areas of common interest”.

Among these areas, the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises are mentioned.

The communique reiterates all G7 members’ support for the UN-convened biodiversity treaty ratified in 2022 and also takes note of ongoing efforts to develop the world’s first plastic pollution treaty.

It states: “We support efforts to develop an international, legally binding instrument on plastic pollution of the highest ambition possible by the end of 2024, based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic… we call on the global community to do the same.”

The comminique additionally takes note of how climate-linked extreme weather events have happened more rapidly and more severely than hoped in recent times. It describes climate change as “a risk multiplier” and notes recent impacts on human health and food systems.

To this latter point, the Italian G7 Presidency has orchestrated a new ‘Apulia Food Systems Initiative’ intended to support food security amid climate change. Further details will be published in the coming months. For now, we know that Italy wants to focus on finance for resilient food systems, with an initial focus on Africa. There will also be a focus on developing fertilizer production capacity outside of Russia and Ukraine, closer to where it is used.

Energy transition sticking points

The communique largely reaffirms commitments already made on the energy transition.

These include goals stated at COP28 in Dubai last December, to:

  • Double the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030
  • Treble installed global renewable electricity capacity by 2030
  • Ensure the world hosts 1,500GW of energy storage within the power sector by 2030
  • Transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems “in a just, orderly and equitable manner” with accelerated action this decade

There is a new commitment to include these targets in Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement in the future, but no deadline is given for this. The next submissions are due next year, and nations are already under pressure to dramatically increase their ambitions.

The communique reiterates commitments to decarbonise power sectors by 2035 and eliminate “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. Only in 2025 will progress be reported on, the document stipulates.

This has disappointed the Climate Group’s executive director for governments and policy, Champa Patel, who said: “Eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 means very little as there’s no such thing as ‘efficient fossil fuel subsidies’.

“The G7 had the opportunity to set an example for the rest of the world by showing increased ambition, but it has chosen not to… We needed to see ambition on fossil fuels, on renewables, on energy efficiency, on tackling emissions in the heavy industry. This is disappointing.”

The We Mean Business Coalition’s managing director of policy, Andrew Prag, added:“This is a frustrating outcome. Faced with electoral uncertainty in many G7 countries, leaders chose to stick to lines reached by their energy and finance ministers earlier this year.

“But the fact is, decisive leadership on climate action and transitioning away from fossil fuels is a route to making economies more energy secure, more competitive and creating new sources of growth and jobs. This is a missed opportunity even at a time of uncertain politics.”

The meeting came shortly after the Bonn climate summit – the midway point between COP28 and COP29. Observers there noted a lack of progress in laying the foundations for key milestones at this year’s summit in Baku, including the creation of a new quantified global finance goal.

COP29 President-Designate Mukhtar Babayev said: “We now need a step change in the pace of our work. We heard strong calls that at COP29 we need to collectively make progress across all pillars of the Paris Agreement with climate finance as a centerpiece.

“To that end, Azerbaijan is intensifying its efforts, and we are committed to the integration of political engagement in support of the ongoing substantive discussions.”

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    The split infinitive is ever with us, slipped into the penultimate paragraph!
    Pedant!!! Go home!

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie