The G7 countries earned a bunch of plaudits for their commitment to phase out fossil fuels from the global economy by 2100 and to cut emissions at the “upper end” of the 40-70 per cent range by 2050, as recommended by scientists.
The resolution – from the US, Japan, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Canada – was a welcome boost to the international climate negotiations that will attempt to seek a new global pact in Paris in December. But it is one thing to say something – 194 countries signed on to keep average global warming below 2°C five years ago – it is another thing to do it.
Numerous analysts have noted that the G7 declaration falls short on specific commitments on how this lofty ambition can be achieved, but for this note in the last paragraph:
“We commit to the long-term objective of applying effective policies and actions throughout the global economy, including carbon market-based and regulatory instruments, and call on other countries to join us”.
That, notes Mark Lewis from French research firm Kepler Chevreux, is a big gap. At the moment, only the EU states amongst the G7 members have comprehensive territory-wide carbon markets, with the US and Canada only having carbon pricing schemes in selected states or provinces.
“To put the scale of the policy challenge that lies behind the ambitious rhetoric in just this one policy area into perspective, the IEA, in its 2014 World Energy Outlook calculated that by 2030 carbon prices of $100/tonne would be needed across the industrialised world,” Lewis notes.
This included the G7, plus Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, and the pathway is illustrated in the graph below, which gives 2013 prices for CO2 under various different scenarios. The 450 scenario is the key to having a chance to keep global warming below 2°C.
“From today’s vantage point, such prices by 2030 seem unimaginable in all these jurisdictions, which underlines how much greater the political commitment will have to become if the ambitious rhetoric of the Leaders’ Declaration is to be translated into practical policy outcomes,” says Lewis.
Scientists underline the issue, saying that the goal to decarbonise by the end of the century may be too little, too late, Climate Central reports.
Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the G7 declaration was b not very meaningful considering greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced dramatically within the next decade, well ahead of the G7’s timeline
“In my view, the science makes clear that 2050 or 2100 is way too far down the road,” he said. “We will need near-term limits if we are going to avoid dangerous warming of the planet.”