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G7 Environment Ministers Pledge to Phase Out ‘Unabated Coal Power Generation’

May 31, 2022 by Kate Michael
Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, and Steffi Lemke , Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, open the meeting of the G7 Ministers for Climate, Energy and the Environment in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

BERLIN, Germany— Last Friday, energy, climate, and environment ministers from the Group of Seven announced a new commitment to phase out coal-fueled power in their respective nations, though no specific date was set. 

The G7 ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, and the European Union concluded two days of talks in Berlin with a communiqué reaffirming their commitment to climate action and financing. The statement included supporting an accelerated transition to clean energy, conserving and restoring biodiversity, ocean health, and reducing the accumulation of earth and ocean debris.

In addition to commitments to take ambitious action against plastic pollution, to end “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, and to largely decarbonize power sectors by 2035, the G7 also agreed to a breakthrough commitment to eliminate coal-powered fuel, the first such commitment from G7 countries to phase-out the highly C02-emitting fossil fuel.

“We commit to supporting an accelerated global unabated coal phase-out,” the G7 joint document states, also pledging “concrete and timely steps towards the goal of an eventual phase-out of domestic unabated coal power generation.”

By unabated, the ministers mean projects that do not include offsets for pollution caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

This and additional commitments were designed to send a strong signal to others around the globe that the G7 will not let the current energy crisis — which they call out as brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine — thwart efforts toward environmental sustainability. 

They called on oil and gas producing countries to act in a “responsible manner,” noting that OPEC has a key role to play in tightening markets.

Advancements in hydrogen and nuclear energy were specifically cited as advancements that G7 members will step up in efforts to enhance energy self-sufficiency. 

Carbon markets and carbon pricing were also recognized for their “crucial potential… for incentivizing investments in technologies, infrastructure and nature-based solutions that promote a transformation to net zero.” 

“We will work together, and with partners beyond the G7, to expand the ambitious use of carbon markets and carbon pricing around the world,” the G7 ministers wrote.

Conversely, they acknowledged the harmful effect of some energy subsidies on the environment and the need to reform policies with recognized negative impacts on nature.

To this end, the communiqué commits the G7 countries to have a “net-zero electricity sector by 2035,” and to start reporting publicly — next year — on how the countries are delivering on a past G7 commitment to end “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.

Ministers also detailed specific efforts to end plastic pollution worldwide, listing a range of potential actions including addressing single-use plastics and non-recyclable plastics, as well as plastics with harmful additives, “through measures such as phasing out when possible and reducing their production and consumption; applying tools to internalize attributable costs of plastic pollution; and addressing the sources, pathways and impacts of microplastics, as well as promoting environmentally sound waste management.”

Kate can be reached at kate@thewellnews.com

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