‘Group of Seven’ nations have agreed to halt the funding of unabated coal-fired power projects before the end of 2021, ahead of a major meeting in June that is likely to pile more pressure to the Morrison government’s inaction on climate change.
In a communique released on Friday, environment ministers from G7 countries highlighted the need to phase out new direct government support for carbon intensive international fossil energy sources, aligned with 1.5C climate targets.
“Consistent with this overall approach and recognising that continued global investment in unabated coal power generation is incompatible with keeping 1.5°C within reach, we stress that international investments in unabated coal must stop now and commit to take concrete steps towards an absolute end to new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021,” it said.
The G7 communique failed to set any concrete deadline for the phase-out of coal-fired power. A recent report from the IEA found that for the world to align with a 1.5°C target, coal power must be entirely phased out in advanced economies by 2030 at the latest. However, the Communique reads: “recognising that coal power generation is the single biggest cause of global temperature increases, we commit now to rapidly scale-up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity and to an overwhelmingly decarbonised power system in the 2030s, consistent with our 2030 NDCs and net zero commitments”.
UK-based analyst Dave Jones, of Ember, pointed out that though the communique is welcome, it is still “two goals short of a hat trick”. “The G7 ministers have stopped short of the other two necessary actions: phasing out coal by 2030 and achieving clean power by 2035”.
Positive new agreements from G7 climate ministers.
– end overseas financing of coal this year
– accelerate transition from 'unabated' coal capacity
– 'overwhelmingly' decarbonised power in the 2030s
But it is *still* short of what is needed for 1.5C. pic.twitter.com/y2Koflt5UE
— Ember (@EmberClimate) May 21, 2021
G7 member Germany faces the most scrutiny, with live debate around whether coal is phased out in 2038, as currently planned by the government, or in 2030, which is aligned with climate goals. An election this year and a shock improvement of its climate targets forced by a court action means pressure is mounting on the country to move forward its existing coal phase-out deadline, and the country remains a major player in coal emissions within Europe and the world.
The G7 summit, to be held on June 11th, will feature a contribution from Australia. This is likely to be a repeat of previous effort from Australia to present an image of climate action despite a litany of actions to fund fossil fuel industries and attack renewables in recent weeks and months.