Climate cheers as G7 signals ‘game over’ for fossil fuels


G7 leaders have sent a clear signal that the world is moving away from fossil fuels and towards a future powered by renewable energy. Green groups, investors and businesses alike heralded the announcement as a positive attempt by these leaders to “shift the pattern of climate politics” ahead of important UN climate talks in Paris this December. Green NGOs praised the commitment as “another signal that the end of the fossil fuel era is inevitable”, while businesses say the communique represents the “signal urgently needed to catalyze climate action.” The G7 leaders called for a global decarbonisation during the course of the century, committed to an international greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 40 to 70 per cent by 2050, and pledged to decarbonise their own energy sectors by the middle of the century. The announcement shows that the world’s largest economies do not see a future for fossil fuels, and puts in question any new investments in dirty energy like coal power that might end up as stranded assets sooner rather than later. As for the impacts of climate change that can’t be avoided, governments agreed to protect and insure the poorest and most vulnerable people. They also pledged to accelerate renewable energy access in Africa, and recommitted to the $100 billion a year in climate finance needed by 2020 to support developing nations in their domestic efforts to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. Today’s move by the G7 raises the bar and puts pressure on them to deliver, by turning these broad brushstrokes into real action and aligning their near-term decisions with their long-term goals. NGOs have warned that “setting the targets without scaling up their own national commitments will not cut it”, and urged leaders to “step up to the plate” ahead of Paris and to “get out of fossil fuels as soon as possible and shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency”. If these leaders follow through, they can speed up the ongoing transition from dirty fossils to clean renewables, which citizens, scientists, businesses, and investors around the world are demanding and driving. Local and regional governments are already leading the way, and new polling data from the International Trade Union Confederation shows that nine out of ten people globally want their elected leaders to do more to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. All eyes will now be on the G7 governments to live up to today’s commitment, and to help lead the ongoing UN climate negotiations in Bonn to a successful outcome that builds the foundation for a strong global climate agreement in Paris in December.


RT @350 World leaders believe the era of fossil fuels is coming to an end. Now get it done.  #G7


Key Points

  • While committing to climate action at home, G7 leaders also signalled solidarity and support for developing countries in their fight against climate change. In their communique today, they agreed to protect and insure the poorest and most vulnerable people against the impacts of climate change, pledged to accelerate renewable energy access in Africa, and recommitted to the ramping up of climate finance for developing nations to at least $100 billion by 2020. While the pledges show that leaders are taking climate impacts hitting the most vulnerable seriously, today only represented the broad brushstrokes of a commitment on climate finance. The real test will be whether all G7 leaders now follow Angela Merkel’s lead on doubling Germany’s public climate finance offer and collectively provide a pathway to the promised $100 billion per year.
  • The G7 made a clear political statement of intent ahead of Paris. With pledges to decarbonise their own economies and support vulnerable nations to tackle the climate crisis, the world’s richest nations signaled their commitment to an ambitious climate deal to be finalized in Paris this December. Today’s communique adds support to calls for binding rules to underpin the new universal agreement, and regular rounds of increasing ambition over time. Such commitments are likely to help build trust among countries and open up vital space for progress on these issues as the UN climate talks continue throughout the year.
  • The positive G7 outcome suggests that at least some of the Heads of States running the world’s largest economies have seen the writing on the wall and are ready to lead. Once dubbed the “climate chancellor” and personally involved in crafting the groundbreaking Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Angela Merkel used this week’s meeting to revitalize her green credentials, with Germany’s leadership of the G7 meeting notable. By supporting and pushing for an ambitious target on decarbonisation and climate finance, Merkel was able to bring countries together to make a strong statement that raises the chances for a global climate agreement in Paris this December. Now NGOs are calling on her to take this renewed energy and confidence back to Berlin to secure national coal restrictions which would allow Germany to meet its own climate targets.
  • Canada and Japan also need to get their houses in order, and scale up their national targets in line with their G7 commitment. Consistent blockers of climate progress in recent times, both countries used this week’s G7 meeting to present embarrassingly weak national targets towards the Paris agreement due in December. But under the weight of their G7 peers who were ready to champion climate action, such as Germany, France and the US, the two laggards were no longer able to fight against the global tide turning against dirty energy. It’s increasingly clear that governments keeping their economies addicted to fossil fuels are out of touch, politically isolated and exposed to huge economic risks.
  • The G7’s remarkable signal shows that the ongoing energy transition from dirty to clean has become a no-brainer, it’s now seen as inevitable and beneficial, and therefore fast accelerating. This is also a result of continuously growing public pressure on governments, as today’s announcement follows a host of calls from businesses, investors and scientists around the world, all supporting strong climate action in line with a complete phase-out of fossil fuels. Local and regional governments are leading the way, while new polling data from the International Trade Union Confederation reveals how nine out of ten people globally want their elected leaders to do more to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. It looks like G7 leaders are listening to their citizens, and are waking up to the need to be on the right side of history.




Tools and Resources

What people are saying

G7 and INDCs

The renewable energy transition

UNFCCC and the Paris agreement – the essentials

Key Quotes

  • “The G7 leaders today declared that the global economy must be decarbonised this century if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This is yet another signal that the end of the fossil fuel era is inevitable, and the dawning of the age of renewables is unstoppable. Now G7 countries must increase the ambition of their domestic climate plans, so as to do their fair share of meeting this global goal.  Meanwhile, in the negotiations here in Bonn, countries today acknowledged the need to step up the pace of efforts to craft a streamlined, manageable text that outlines clear options for the post-2020 climate agreement due to be adopted in Paris this December.  There was an unprecedented, united call by countries — the likes of which I have not seen in my 26 years of following this process — for the co-chairs who are managing these negotiations to put forward their own draft text later this week. This is essential to enable ministers meeting in Paris next month to give political guidance on key issues in the negotiations, such as ambition, fairness, transparency and finance.” – Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “The course is right, but more speed, ambition and specific actions are needed. Though they left out the details, it is clear after this meeting that the days of fossil fuels and carbon pollution are numbered. G7 countries agreed to get most of the greenhouse gas emissions out of their national energy sectors by 2050 and they will also support global emissions cuts of 60-70% by 2050. More will be needed to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.  There is only one way to meet the goals they agreed: Get out of fossil fuels as soon as possible and shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency.” – Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative
  • “This agreement is good news. It is also heartening to see how the EU was able to demonstrate the positive role that renewables and energy efficiency are playing in Europe – in terms of cutting emissions and creating jobs. But today’s announcements are merely words on paper. All countries must now turn these pledges into actions. The EU should lead by example, putting energy efficiency first in the fight against climate change, and placing the transition to a sustainable society and economy at the heart of all its policies.” – Roland Jöbstl, Policy Officer – Climate and Energy, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
  • “G7 Leaders have told businesses and investors that the decarbonization of the global economy will occur this century.  This is the signal we urgently need to catalyze climate action. Now both governments and businesses have a crucial job to do.  We commit to working with G7 governments to achieve a low-carbon, climate-resilient global economy this century by scaling up our climate action. In turn, governments must complete a global climate agreement this December in Paris which amplifies this transformation.” – Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business
  • “As some of the world’s richest countries and longest emitters of greenhouse gasses it is good to see the G7 signalling an end to the era of fossil fuels. Angela Merkel has been at the heart of global climate negotiations ever since she presided over the first UN climate summit in Berlin in 1995. It is good to see this leadership bearing fruit. But in order to deliver this positive vision which G7 nations have now set for the world they need to go further and faster with their mitigation contributions. Setting the target without scaling up their own national commitments will not cut it. That is why it is vital that a ratcheting mechanism be included in the Paris agreement to ensure contributions are scaled up over time. As the most polluting fossil fuel, we should start by getting rid of coal. The UK Prime Minister has already pledged to phase out unabated coal from the UK energy mix, and other leaders should follow suit. The G7 promise to mobilise climate finance also sends an important message. In this final week in Bonn it is essential that progress is made to clear the pathway to the promised climate finance which will help vulnerable countries adapt to a warming world.” – Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Change Advisor, Mohamed Adow
  • “G7 leaders are clearly hoping to shift the pattern of climate politics, where they have been on the back foot. By agreeing to decarbonise the global economy inside a strong system of rules they have set a benchmark for emerging economies such as China to match. The commitment to meeting financial pledges and providing insurance to the most climate vulnerable countries also aims to build bridges with poorer countries.” – Nick Maybe, CEO of E3G
  • “The G7 today placed the end of the fossil fuel era firmly on the agenda of global politics. All G7 countries have committed themselves to a low-carbon transition, and to support the deployment of renewable energies in developing countries. The G7 summit herewith sends a strong signal for a successful climate deal in Paris at the end of this year.” – Christoph Bals, Policy Director, Germanwatch
  • “Today, for the first time ever, G7 leaders have rallied behind a long-term goal to decarbonize the global economy. This long-term decarbonization goal will make evident to corporations and financial markets that the most lucrative investments will stem from low-carbon technologies. This target must also be a key element of an ambitious international climate agreement. G7 leaders reached a set of decisions that signal an important shift in development assistance and investments toward clean energy and climate-resilient projects. Their commitment to increase renewable energy access in Africa and address climate risks from disasters will help build trust with developing countries ahead of the climate negotiations in Paris.” – Jennifer Morgan, Director of the Global Climate Program at the World Resources Institute
  • “Japan clearly tried to play a spoiling game at the G7, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership shone through. The experience should prove to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that his position on climate and coal is at odds with the rest of the leaders. He should reconsider its position in run up to the Paris Climate Talks in December.” – Kimiko Hirata, CAN Japan coordinator
  • “G7 leaders still aren’t spelling out how they will keep their $100bn promise by 2020. They’ve failed to commit to increase public funds, which is a vital foundation for success in Paris at the end of the year. Developing countries need a credible financial roadmap, not a set of accounting tricks. Thankfully Angela Merkel has bucked the trend. Her pledge to double climate finance from Germany has set the bar for the others – now the rest must follow suit. Currently rich countries provide just 2% of what poor countries need to adapt to a changing climate.” – Tim Gore, Oxfam policy lead on climate change
  • “Agreeing on ending the burning of fossil fuels among the G7 is a strong signal to global capital markets and will accelerate deployment of renewables and storage technologies” – Toby Heaps, CEO and Cofounder of Corporate Knights Inc
  • “Governments of more than 200 countries have agreed that an increase in the average global surface temperature of the earth of more than 2 degrees Celsius would prove catastrophic. Experts the world over say that if that limit is passed, sea levels will most likely rise and climate patterns will change in profound and destructive ways. From an investment point of view, this announcement from the G7 today only serves to further highlights that fossil fuels now and in the future are a poor risk.” – Tim Buckley, Director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
  • “With the G7 announcing the end of the fossil fuel century, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott looks ever more out of step with the rest of the world. The Australian Government continues to hitch itself to the wrong wagon, the coal wagon, and that can only ever end badly, economically, for every day people and for the environment. Abbott’s intractable commitment to developing more coal and gas can only leave us with a truly ‘stranded economy’ that also threatens the global climate. Our region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change and Australia is already suffering some of the worst impacts. The G7 has put a stark dividing line between countries taking climate change action and those few still bound to fossil fuel vested interests. Make no mistake, this is a pivotal moment in history and right now, Australia is on the wrong side.” – Blair Palese, Co-founder and CEO of Australia
  • “G7 leaders have finally understood that the stakes are high for the Paris talks. Either we pay the costs of continually rising climate risks or take decisive action to drive trillions of dollars of clean investment. Paris is fast becoming the biggest political event of 2015.” Nick Mabey, E3G CEO
  • “Elmau delivered. At the close of the G7 discussion today in Elmau the vision of a 100% renewable energy future is starting to take shape while spelling out the end of coal. The heavy lifting for German Chancellor Angela Merkel will begin when she returns to Berlin and has to present a plan for complete phase-out of the dirtiest energy source, coal. Then she would live up to her name as the ‘climate chancellor’.” – Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace international climate politics lead
  • “Heading into the G7 summit Chancellor Merkel’s announcement that Germany will double its climate finance contribution to $4 billion was big news for the developing world. We saw this as a positive benchmark that could have been a game-changer. Unfortunately, other G7 leaders missed the opportunity during their summit in Elmau to reach the bar set by Germany. Their acknowledgement of the need to provide climate finance after 2020 was an improvement on previous positions but we urgently need a roadmap to the pledged $100billion. These countries still have plenty of opportunity between now and Paris to step up to the plate.” – Anoop Poonia, CAN South Asia

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