Industrialized countries at G7 summit acknowledge need to decarbonize the global economy

The G7 has officially backed the IPCC’s suggested target of 40-70 percent GHG emissions reductions below 2010 levels by 2050. The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the US (the EU, although not a member, is also represented) said the global cuts should be at the upper-end of the IPCC‘s recommended range. In the 17-page communiqué, “Think Ahead, Act Together”, released at the closing of the G7 summit held from 7-8 June in Schloss Elmau, Germany, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the internationally agreed target of limiting warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, acknowledging that “deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century.”

The hope is that this commitment, along with INDCs (currently submitted by all G7 members except Japan), will provide a symbolic boost for the UNFCCC climate talks scheduled in Paris later this year. Yet, despite taking a step in the right direction to hold warming at 2°C, the Climate Action Tracker assessed there will still be a substantial gap, based on an analysis of the combined INDCs of the G7 and the EU (including commitments from a draft of Japan’s INDC).

Beyond reducing emissions, “Think Ahead, Act Together” calls for all G7 members to improve efforts on climate finance. Although all G7 countries have pledged some money to the Green Climate Fund over the past year, cumulative contributions still fall far short of the goal of $100 billion in annual climate financing by 2020. In order to overcome existing investment barriers, the G7 agreed to help vulnerable countries manage climate change related disaster risk and build resilience by extending insurance coverage and developing early warning systems, and to accelerate access to renewable energy in developing countries. However, a specific roadmap on how to achieve these funds is lacking.

The G7 noted in the communiqué that they are committed to eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, incorporating climate mitigation and resilience considerations into development assistance and investment decisions, and applying effective policies to incentivize investments towards low-carbon growth opportunities.

Climate change was one of many urgent issues on the agenda of June summit organized by Germany, who is currently holding presidency. Key topics included Greece’s debt negotiations and the relationships of G8 with Russia. Last year the seven other world leaders in the group of industrialized nations decided to suspend Russia’s participation after the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

(Image: G7 Summit on 7 and 8 of June 2015, Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, Germany. Photo credit: Arron Hoare/Office of UK Prime Minister on Flickr)