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Civil society flays G7’s ‘weak commitments’, failure to address climate emergency

Civil society groups have reacted strongly against the G7 group’s supposed failure to address the climate emergency, with what the activists describe as weak commitments, riddled with loopholes, that will enable more fossil fuel expansion while breaking previous promises.

G7 Leaders
G7 leaders gather for a group photo in Hiroshima on May 20, 2023

They describe the outcome of the meeting as an unacceptable disregard to the growing warnings from scientists worldwide and the demand from people to politicians to take rapid action to end fossil fuel use and scale up renewables to prevent worsening the climate crisis.

Gathered in Hiroshima, Japan, for a G7 largely dedicated to building lasting world peace, these governments who claim to be “climate leaders” have reportedly framed public investment in fossil fuels as “appropriate” and have called for expansion of an industry that is the primary cause of not only the climate crisis, but multiple conflicts and wars over recent decades.

The G7 Summit in Hiroshima was seen as an opportunity for leaders to commit to a rapid phaseout of all fossil fuels. But, according to civil society, the acknowledgement of the need for an accelerated phase out of unabated fossil fuels touches on a fraction of the urgency required to achieve the 1.5 target.

Alex Rafalowicz, Director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative, said: “Just as there is no chance of solving the nuclear threat without the active support of the G7, there is no chance of solving the climate threat without the G7 committing to ending fossil fuels proliferation. Rather than promoting outdated and devastating oil, gas and coal projects, G7 countries must invest in economic diversification away from fossil fuel production and provide their fair share of financial support to the least responsible and most affected countries.

“If the leaders of these wealthy governments were serious about tackling the climate crisis, they would join Pacific governments who are pushing to form an alliance of nations to negotiate a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Instead, today they have chosen to side with the fossil fuel industry and attempt to justify their ongoing expansion. Some of their Global South counterparts, particularly a bloc of six Pacific countries, are already building a peaceful world free from fossil fuels. It is urgent that the G7 is the next bloc to support the global call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Svitlana Romanko, Co-founder and Director of Razom We Stand, said: “Fifty years ago Hiroshima was bombed by nuclear weapons. Today my country, Ukraine, is bombed by fossil fuel weapons. If the G7 countries want to ensure global energy security and peace, they have no choice but to end our dependence on fossil fuels. The G7 has the means and the responsibility to stop the chaos generated by oil, gas and coal production and it should impose the full ban of Russian oil and gas, further closing the loopholes in sanctions for China, India and the like. The first step further would be to support a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, the missing legal mechanism that could prevent today’s multiple Hiroshimas and help build a world based on justice and peace.”

May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director, said: “Where there was an opportunity to accelerate a renewable energy transition that would bring about energy security, accessibility, and keep us on track to meet climate targets, the G7 have chosen to remain on a fossil fuelled collision course. Despite a week of sustained global calls from civil society, G7 leaders have let down their constituents on the frontlines. The final G7 communiqué does not heed the bold calls needed for our times and fails to include concrete plans to end the fossil fuel era. Instead of taking decisive action to tackle cost of living, energy, and climate crises, the text plays around the edges.”

Andreas Sieber, 350.org Associate Director for Global Policy, said: “The message from G7 leaders falls short in addressing their carbon addiction. The G7s Clean Energy Action Plan lacks specifics and failed to build on the concrete targets of the G7 Energy and Environment Ministers. The tepid commitment from G7 leaders to accelerate the phase out of fossil fuels and decarbonise the power sector by 2035 are simply not serious enough attempts given the loopholes in it such as the irresponsible promotion of gas investments.”

Jeff Ordower, 350.org North America Director, said: “The United States held significant sway in the G7 leader’s final text but failed to show climate leadership. Instead, the US has been complicit in the communiqué’s greenwashing of false solutions and dangerous distractions like fossil gas and conceded to pressure from Japan to keep coal on the agenda past 2030. In direct contradiction to his posturing and climate finance commitments, President Joe Biden continues to provide loans for fossil fuel extraction abroad, while ramping up its expansion domestically – this is not the behaviour of a climate President.”

Norly Mercado, 350.org Asia Regional Director, said: “Despite welcome targets for renewable energy, the G7 has again let down the Asian continent. Leaving room for fossil gas locks countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines locked further into fossil-fuel addiction and delays the Just Transition to 100% renewable energy. Public investment in the gas sector is not consistent with the climate targets set by the G7 themselves. At a time where Asia is experiencing record high temperatures, the world’s wealthiest should be leading climate ambition, not delaying it.”

Amara Possian, 350.org Canada Team Lead, said: “At the G7 leaders’ summit this weekend, Prime Minister Trudeau tried to position Canada as a climate leader, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Trudeau government shamelessly pours billions of dollars into tax breaks and handouts for the fossil fuel industry, financing destructive projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and the Coastal Gasoline pipeline. They support false solutions like fossil hydrogen and carbon capture. If Trudeau is serious about tackling the climate emergency, he must eliminate all subsidies and public financing for the oil and gas sector before the end of 2023.”

Nicolò Wojewoda, 350.org Europe Regional Director, said: “European leaders have used the war in Ukraine to justify fossil gas expansion, as we see promoted in the G7’s final text. Contrary to greenwashing attempts, investments in new fossil gas infrastructure will do nothing to ease energy bills and will only accelerate the climate crisis. On June 1, French President Emmanuel Macron will gather leaders in Paris to discuss a ‘New Global Financial Pact’. Civil society will keep up the pressure to make this a moment for something bigger, an opportunity to take action to end fossil finance and ramp up support for distributed, renewable energy for all.”

Kate Cahoon, 350.org Germany Team Lead, said: “Chancellor Olaf Scholz has used Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis to push for increased expansion of gas. But gas infrastructure will not address energy security or affordability, and the vast amounts of heat-trapping methane produced by burning fossil gas will dangerously escalate the climate crisis. The solution is to shift these finances out of fossil fuels and into clean, efficient, affordable renewable energy.”

Masayoshi Iyoda, 350.org Japan Team Lead, said: “Prime Minister Kishida and other G7 leaders failed to take historical responsibility for causing the climate crisis, which threatens to exacerbate the conditions for global conflict. The G7 communique makes it clear that Japan is still addicted to dirty fossils and dangerous nuclear energy and plays a role as a merchant of greenwashing technologies such as ammonia and hydrogen co-firing. In this symbolic city of Hiroshima, it is not the privileged leaders of the world’s richest countries that will lead the way to a peaceful, decarbonised future, it is the people who will.”

Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International, said: “The G7, among the richest nations in the world, have once proven their lack of climate leadership with their statement from the Hiroshima Summit. Paying lip service to the need to keep global warming below 1.5C while at the same time continuing to invest in gas shows a bizarre political disconnect from science and a complete disregard of the climate emergency.

“Such hypocrisy from historical polluters as climate impacts continue to increase sets a low bar and jeopardises global efforts to fight the crisis. The G7 countries must come to COP28 with a clear focus on doing their fair share on phasing out fossil fuels and delivering climate finance.”

Dr Stephan Singer, Senior Adviser, Climate Action Network International, said: “Too little too late is an understatement. The G7, representing about half of global economic wealth, has failed once again as a collective to comply with its historic and present-day responsibilities to tackle the climate crisis. This statement from Hiroshima shows no plan or commitment to phase out fossil fuels well before 2050, has weak announcements on renewables and energy efficiency for this decade and lacks stronger pledges on finance to developing nations.”

Laurie van der Burg, Co-Manager Global Public Finance, Oil Change International, said: “A month ago G7 ministers successfully pushed back against a Japan-led push for gas investments and fossil fuels. But Germany joining Japan in promoting gas investments means we now have a disastrous G7 Summit outcome. The repeated call for public gas investments directly contradicts the G7 Leaders’ claim that they have fulfilled their commitment to end public finance for fossil fuels by the end of last year. It also jeopardises 1.5°C and energy security goals. The G7 today missed an important opportunity to get on track for 1.5°C to set the stage for a successful G20 and COP28 – rather they have moved in the opposite direction. They need to urgently reroute to protect people and the planet.”

Tracy Carty, Global Climate Politics Expert, Greenpeace International, said: “G7 leaders have ignored warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: act now or it will be too late for 1.5°C. Faced with the urgent need to phase out fossil fuels, what leaders have brought to the table represents an endorsement of new fossil gas. The gap between G7 ambition and what climate science demands is stark and widening. When G7 leaders refuse to shift gear, they doom current and future generations to sink deeper in a climate crisis. Time is running out.

“G7 leaders’ endorsement of new fossil gas is a blunt denial of the climate emergency. One of the biggest fossil fuel threats today is coming from a rapidly expanding liquified natural gas (LNG) industry. Fossil gas is one of the most polluting forms of energy and in its liquefied form, its carbon emissions can be as bad as coal.”

Petter Lydén, Head of International Climate Policy, Germanwatch, said: “The leaders of G7 have agreed to climate targets with too many loopholes. Instead of ruling out new investments in gas, G7 leaders left the door open for anachronistic fossil fuel infrastructure. The German chancellor Olaf Scholz has regrettably pushed through a weaker language than his climate minister Habeck did in the recent G7 climate and energy ministerial.

“The G7 leaders’ communiqué shows a serious disconnect with science, as it enables new investment in fossil gas infrastructure, despite the very clear messages from both the International Energy Agency, IEA, and IPCC, which show that a future below 1.5 degrees can’t include more fossil fuels. Most likely, the German chancellor Olaf Scholz has been a driving force behind the weak language on gas, which is a serious blow to Germany’s international credibility on climate.

“German Chancellor Scholz stated just a few weeks ago that he wanted to build on last year’s commitment of decarbonising the power sector by 2035, but still this year’s communiqué doesn’t make that commitment without loopholes.”

Max Lawson, Head of Inequality Policy, Oxfam, said: “The G7 owes the Global South $8.7 trillion for the devastating losses and damages their excessive carbon emissions have caused. In the G7 Hiroshima communique they said they recognised that there is a new Loss and Damage fund, but they failed to commit a single cent.

“It is good they continue to recognise the need to meet 1.5 degrees and stay committed to this despite the energy crisis driven by the war in Ukraine, but they try to blame everyone else- they are far off track themselves to contribute their fair share of what is needed to meet this target and they should have been on track years ago.

“They confirm their commitment to end public funding for fossil energy, they maintain their loophole on new fossil gas, using the war as an excuse. This means they have continued to wriggle out of their commitment to not publicly fund new fossil fuels, making a mockery of their fine statements. The G7 must stop using fossil fuels immediately – the planet is on fire.”

Susanne Wong, Asia Programme Manager, Oil Change International, said: “This year’s G7 is revealing Japan’s failure of climate leadership at a global level. At a time when we rapidly need to phase out fossil fuels, this year’s G7 host has pushed for the expansion of gas and LNG and technologies that would prolong the use of coal. Activists mobilised 50 actions across 22 countries this week to demand that Japan end its fossil fuel finance and stop driving the expansion of gas and other fossil-based technologies. Japan will continue to face intense international scrutiny until it stops fueling the climate crisis.”

Calls for G7 leaders to end the fossil fuel madness are coming from different sectors of civil society. At their Y7 summit, the young people the G7 countries are supposed to represent urged the world’s most advanced economies to stop being the biggest climate polluters and to support the development of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Religious leaders and people of diverse religions have also called on G7 Prime Ministers to stop supporting new fossil fuel projects, domestically and internationally, and to commit to developing a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty in an Open Letter for Peace With the Planet.

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