Key takeaways from the G7 Summit for Climate this weekend
Agreement to speed up renewable energy development and phase out fossil fuels while leaving door open for gas investment
The G7 summit held in Sapporo, Japan, on April 16, marked an important step forward for renewable energy development and a quicker phase-out of fossil fuels. The ministers agreed to set collective targets for solar power and offshore wind capacity, pledging to increase offshore wind capacity by 150 gigawatts by 2030 and solar capacity to more than 1 terawatt.
This is a huge statement of commitment to the importance of relying on the energy superpowers of solar and wind to phase out fossil fuels, said Dave Jones, head of data insights at energy think tank Ember. The move is expected to provide a challenge to Japan, for which offshore wind is the missing part of the jigsaw that could see its power sector decarbonize much quicker than it thought possible.
The G7 ministers also agreed to accelerate the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels, which are fossil fuels burned without using technology to capture the resulting CO2 emissions. They aim to achieve net-zero in energy systems by 2050 at the latest.
Although Canada and other members pushed for a 2030 deadline for phasing out coal, the G7 stopped short of endorsing this deadline, instead agreeing to prioritise "concrete and timely steps" towards accelerating the phase-out of "domestic, unabated coal power generation." Commitments were also made to reduce additional plastic pollution to zero by 2040, bringing the target forward by a decade.
The ministers acknowledged that there are diverse pathways to achieving carbon neutrality but agreed on the importance of aiming for a common goal toward 2050. The importance of renewable fuel sources and energy security has taken on new urgency following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Despite not endorsing the 2030 deadline for phasing out coal, G7 ministers agreed that climate action and action on energy security actually work together, rather than being in conflict, as initially thought. The door was also left open for continued investment in gas, saying that sector could help address potential energy shortfalls.
Japan, which depends on imports for nearly all its energy needs, wants to keep liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a transition fuel for at least 10 to 15 years. Investment in the gas sector "can be appropriate" to address potential market shortfalls provoked by the crisis in Ukraine, if implemented in a manner consistent with climate objectives.
Overall, the G7 summit has set a clear path towards a sustainable future, prioritizing renewable energy sources and the phase-out of fossil fuels. The commitments made at the summit reflect a shared commitment to accelerate the transformation towards net-zero emissions systems, ensure the necessary security of supplies and promote investments in the most strategic supply chains.