Energy ministers from the Group of Seven industrial nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have all agreed today on the world’s critical need to corral quickly worsening climate change.
The G7 energy leaders have met for two days in Hamburg, Germany, the second largest international port in Europe. Their agreement bodes well for the critical Paris UN climate negotiations in December, especially because it indicates a greater commitment from these influential climate players.
Canada and Japan have yet to present the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions that were expected from developed nations by April. The United States is experiencing friction from politicians and elected officials clinging to formerly lucrative links with certain fossil fuel and ultraconservative interests.
German Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke about the results at a news conference after the summit:
“I’ve never experienced so much agreement when it comes to the targets of G7 countries.”
As well as calling for action on the climate dilemma, the ministers pledged to improve national and world energy security by diversifying fuel supplies and suppliers. They also committed to help for energy security in embattled Ukraine, where a pricing dispute with the Russian petroleum giant Gazprom limited supplies last year.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, among others, has said that today’s G7 pledge improves the likelihood of success with climate change in Paris. The world’s nations, numbering almost 200, will gather there at the end of November and first two weeks of December to forge a new worldwide agreement to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris talks seek to limit the rise in average global temperature to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial levels of two centuries ago. However, temperature has already risen by almost half of that amount (0.8 degrees C). Scientists almost unanimously agree that climate change hastened by human activities has begun to cause severe drought, more devastating storms, and increased unrest in affected nations like Syria, and most other countries are in agreement.
The G7 leaders are hoping for national representatives in Paris to enact a follow-on to the 10-year-old Kyoto Protocol, which has met insuperable political obstacles and had only limited success. Experts concur that national pledges made so far may miss the target. Christiana Figueres, the UN leader responsible for seeking a climate solution, praises the community of nations for a good start and expresses confidence that most INDCs will be submitted by September, allowing important number-crunching to be completed in time for Paris, and that future refinements will enable us all to reach a sustainable goal.