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G7 ministers set new targets for renewable energy but leave door open on fossil gas

The G7 Ministerial Conference on Environment, Energy and Climate that held from April 15 to 16, 2023 in the Japanese city of Sapporo saw the world’s seven richest nations set new targets for renewable energy development but refused to close the door on fossil gas and false climate solutions.

G7 Ministers’ Meeting
Japan’s Environment Minister Akihiro Nishimura and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura attend at a news conference of G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment in Sapporo, Japan April 16, 2023. Photo credit: Kyodo via REUTERS

Norly Mercado, 350.org Asia Regional Director, says: “The increased targets for renewable energy are a welcome result, but tainted by the lack of a clear pathway to transition away from fossil fuels. Japan’s refusal to phase out coal by 2030 is a betrayal, not only of their role as G7 president, but of their fellow Asian countries and communities that have already lost livelihoods and lives to forced evictions and climate disasters.

“Japan cannot simply fund energy transition deals with one hand and export outdated fossil fuel technology with the other. If the G7 president looks to play a pivotal role in the shift to clean energy forms in Asia, they must stop financing all fossil fuels in Asia and elsewhere.”

Acknowledging the environmental destruction caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other factors, G7 ministers stressed their willingness to increase measures to achieve the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement during “this critically important decade.”

However, no progress was made on “full or partial decarbonisation of the power sector by 2035,” following last year’s agreement. It is believed that Japan, this year’s G7 chair, pushed back heavily on the inclusion of a deadline for the phase out of coal-fired power generation.

Masayoshi Iyoda, 350.org Japan Team Lead, says: “As the 2023 G7 chair, Japan should position itself as a willing leader in bringing about the just transition required to tackle the climate crisis. However, it will take all G7 countries committing to the implementation of climate targets and decarbonisation to ensure a peaceful world below 1.5 degrees and the end of fossil fuel dependency which underlies the present energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Meaningful action requires other G7 members including the United States and United Kingdom immediately ending investments into false solutions like fossil gas, which simply act as a life extension for the climate-destroying fossil fuel industry and will lock us further into a reliance on fossil fuels and increasing energy insecurity.

Cansin Ilgaz, 350.org Associate Director of Global Campaigns, says: “Japan and the United States continue to green light fossil fuel projects while hiding behind flawed renewable financing partnerships elsewhere. As the world’s largest financiers of fossil fuels and the world’s richest nations, it is incumbent on the G7 to commit to a rapid, complete decarbonisation timeline both at home and abroad.

“We can’t rely on the private sector to fulfill the climate debts of those most historically responsible for the climate crisis. This means the G7 putting their money where their mouth is: omitting false solutions and mobilising large-scale, grant-based climate finance to bring about a just transition.”

Without a clear roadmap to phase out all fossil fuels, including coal, climate disasters will intensify, and developing countries and vulnerable populations will continue to suffer the fallout of bad decisions from richer nations. Continued dependence on wildly fluctuating prices of fossil fuels and dangerous nuclear power will threaten livelihoods, and continued purchase of fossil fuels from Russia will impede peace in Ukraine.

The campaigners insist that the G7 leaders, and particularly G7 chair Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, must go beyond the agreement of the Sapporo Ministerial Meeting at the G7 Hiroshima Summit in May and reject false climate solutions, putting forward a clear roadmap to fossil fuel phase-out and a just transition to 100% sustainable and renewable energy.

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