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Sunday, May 28, 2023

G7 summit: Civil society to demand world leaders end fossil fuel era

Representatives from 350.org along with dozens of global civil society organisations have arrived in Hiroshima ahead of this weekend’s G7 Leaders’ Summit – a significant moment during which a response to the correlated climate and energy crises will be a major point of contention.

G7 Elmau Summit
G7 leaders at the Elmau Summit in Germany

The summit comes just days after the United Nations issued a warning that the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree threshold could be surpassed as early as 2027.

While G7 countries committed to ending fossil fuels in 2022’s communique, they have since reneged on their promises and are continuing to support fossil fuel dependency.

May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director, says: “The G7 leader’s summit in Hiroshima represents a crucial juncture at which the world’s most powerful nations have the opportunity to demonstrate true leadership and make good on their promises. There is no point powering up on renewables without powering down on fossil fuels – a commitment to expand renewable energy development is not enough.

“At a time when the climate, energy insecurity, and cost of living crisis are more potent than ever, we are demanding the G7 communique include a clear timeline for a complete fossil fuel phase out along with financial and technical support to accelerate a just, global energy transition.”

A week of solidarity actions that have taken place in over 20 countries around the world culminated in a joint action led by the Fossil Free Japan coalition that was held on the ground in Hiroshima on Thursday, May 18, 2023,

Anticipating the upcoming negotiations and reflecting on the shortcomings of April’s Sapporo Climate and Energy Ministers communique, civil society is demanding that the G7 leader’s final text reflects commitments in the interest of our shared collective future.

Andreas Sieber, 350.org Associate Director of Global Policy, says: “The G7 summit follows a year of global suffering due to fossil fuel-driven inflation, soaring energy prices, and exorbitant profits for oil corporations, following the G7’s 2022 pledge to end international fossil fuel support. G7 leaders must phase out coal before 2030 and send a strong signal to substitute fossil fuels with at least 1.5 Terawatts of renewable energy per year from 2030 onwards.”

As the host country, and one of the world’s top providers of international public finance for gas and for fossil fuels more broadly, Japan is in the spotlight.

Masayoshi Iyoda, 350.org Japan Interim Team Lead, says: “Science has made it clear that in order to tackle the climate crisis, we need a complete transition to renewable energy. To achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target, world leaders must commit significant finances into renewables and immediately cease financial support for all fossil fuels.

“Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has acted as a laggard on the global stage by attempting to block a phase out of coal and pushing false solutions like ammonia co-firing, dangerous nuclear and LNG into the Sapporo communique. The G7 in Hiroshima is an opportunity for PM Kishida and other leaders to deliver a clear and just renewable energy agenda for a peaceful world.”

Both Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan and President Joe Biden of the United States have positioned themselves as aspiring leaders on issues pertaining to both climate and security — the latter being a key element of Kishida’s decision to host the talks in Hiroshima. But during their tenures, both have taken backwards steps on their commitments.

While riding the win of passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion in funding to tackle climate change, President Biden has in the past two months approved two mega fossil fuel projects in Alaska – the Willow oil project, and the Alaska LNG exports, which will include an 800 mile pipeline, the produce of which Japan is expected to be a top buyer.

Jeff Ordower, 350.org North America Director, says: “The G7 should be focused on eliminating fossil fuels and transitioning us to renewable energy. Instead, the US, Germany and Japan are re-opening the window towards massive investment in gas. This is not climate leadership, and we call upon the G7 nations to prioritize people and planet over fossil fuel profits.”

Alongside Japan and the United States, news recently broke that Germany is actively pushing for an endorsement of fossil gas in the summit’s final text, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz citing as he did in 2022 that the global energy crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a justification for gas expansion.

Nicolo Wojewoda, 350.org Europe Regional Director, says: “Germany’s push for fossil gas expansion is an attempted silver bullet, but it is not fooling anyone. Rather than justify fossil fuel addiction, the war in Ukraine and resulting energy crisis underlines the need for leaders to invest in affordable, accessible renewable energy.

“Germany, the United States and Japan are hiding behind language that purports to serve the interests of the Global South and their own citizens but is in reality a thinly veiled excuse to continue along the status quo where the fossil fuel industry rakes in obscene profits in the midst of extreme economic hardship and worsening climate impacts. They must be held accountable and commit to a just transition.”

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