G7 Climate and Environment Ministers’ Meeting
Important progress to move away from coal.
Kiko Network calls on Japan to agree to a coal phase-out by 2030 at June Summit
May 22, 2021
Mie Asaoka, President
The G7 Environment Ministers’ Meeting on Climate and Environment, held on May 20 and 21, ended with the adoption of a joint communiqué. The meeting was held virtually and hosted by the UK, which will also have the presidency of COP26 (the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
One of the top priority topics covered was climate change. The communiqué confirmed that G7 countries would make ambitious and accelerated efforts to reduce emissions to keep a limit of 1.5°C temperature rise within reach. Coming after the Japan-U.S. Climate Partnership agreement in April this year, it is significant that they have made clear the aim is to limit warming to 1.5°C rather than 2.0°C.
One topic that attracted major attention at the G7 meeting was how to deal with coal power generation. To limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C, it is clear that a priority must be given to ending the use of coal for power generation. On this point, the International Energy Agency (IEA) just this week released its “Net Zero by 2050” showing that the power sector in developed countries must be 100% clean by 2035.
Nevertheless, Japan repeatedly claimed it needs coal power for its domestic circumstances, and deepened its isolation among G7 countries by strongly opposing an end to funding for coal power overseas and a phase out of coal power domestically. By defending coal to the point of obstructing negotiations Japan has revealed that it is not prepared to accelerate the energy transition toward net zero by 2050. Despite all of this, Japan could still not block the accelerating push for decarbonization, and the communiqué shows some progress for the G7.
With the communiqué the countries recognized that coal power generation is the single biggest cause of global temperature increases, and agreed to commit now to an overwhelmingly decarbonized power system in the 2030s, and to take concrete steps towards an absolute end to new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021. It is very significant that they made a major step toward a coal phase-out.
The communiqué also covers the transition to net zero in major sectors, and represents important agreement to move ahead in ways consistent with the 1.5°C temperature goal, in terms of energy efficiency, just transition, phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and increasing climate finance.
This agreement will be a basis for the G7 leaders’ summit set for June 11 to 13. At the upcoming summit, the government of Japan should not obstruct ambitious G7 consensus-building efforts toward net zero. Rather, based on this communiqué, Japan should consider further raising its 46-50% reduction target announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in April and prepare to strengthen its policies so that Japan can commit to completely phasing out coal power generation by 2030, ending overseas assistance not only for coal power but also fossil fuel projects, and increasing climate finance by 2025. Nuclear power should not be relied upon to achieve climate targets and enhance climate actions.
Reference (Ministry of the Environment website)
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