G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment closes:
Japan, as the host country, should present a concrete roadmap to 1.5°C, including a timeframe for phasing out coal-fired power generation
April 17, 2023
Mie Asaoka, President
The G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment held in Sapporo, Japan on April 15-16 concluded with the adoption of a communiqué (consensus document). The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Synthesis Report, released in March, states that “the choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years,” warning that the efforts of this decade are critically important and that we should take all possible action by 2030. Against the backdrop of the global energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the focus of the meeting was on whether the participants could agree on concrete measures to break away from dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate a just transition to clean energy.
The communiqué includes ways to respond to the three crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
On climate change and energy, the G7 mentioned for the first time the need to accelerate the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels, as well as the need to end the construction of new unabated coal-fired power plants. It also specified targets and measures for the introduction of offshore wind and solar power generation by 2030.
However, the communiqué failed to strengthen the commitment in last year’s G7 Leaders’ Communiqué to achieve a “fully or predominantly decarbonised power sector by 2035”. Furthermore, it allowed for investment in the gas sector under certain conditions, and failed to specify a date for the phase-out of coal-fired power generation. There was also recognition in the text that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an important part of the broader portfolio of decarbonization solutions to achieve net zero in 2050, and that nuclear power could provide low-carbon energy to reduce fossil fuel dependence in some countries. While progress has been made since last year’s agreement, it is concerning that countries have left the door open for the preservation of coal-fired, gas, and nuclear power.
As the host country of G7, Japan was expected to lead the discussion on strengthening and accelerating climate change countermeasures. Instead, it has moved in the opposite direction from the path toward achieving the 1.5°C target. Media reports indicate that Japan was reluctant to include in the communiqué dates for the phase-out of coal-fired power generation or the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs).
The communiqué also includes the use of hydrogen and its derivatives (ammonia, etc.) in the power sector. It is reported that the Japanese government, which wants to spread its GX (Green Transformation) policy in Japan and throughout Asia, focused on positioning hydrogen and ammonia as a low-emission energy source in the communiqué. Although the UK, France, and Canada reportedly objected to this, it was included in the communiqué on the condition that N2O and NOx emissions are avoided, and that it be consistent with the 1.5°C pathway and the G7 agreement to decarbonize the power sector by 2035. Hydrogen / ammonia co-firing technologies for thermal power generation, which are promoted by the Japanese government, have little impact on emission reductions and are not consistent with the 1.5°C pathway, and so it cannot be said that use of these technologies was approved by the G7 with this communiqué.
There is only a short time left to achieve the 1.5°C target, and so at the G7 Hiroshima Summit in May, the G7 should demonstrate its commitment to lead the global effort to achieve the Paris Agreement 1.5°C target and avoid a worsening climate crisis.
As the host country of the G7 Hiroshima Summit, Japan should not be focusing its efforts on including hydrogen/ammonia co-firing, CCS, and nuclear power promotion in order to promote its own GX policy. Instead, as the host country, Japan has a responsibility in this critical decade to specify its own roadmap with specific timelines and targets for a phase-out of fossil fuels and a just transition to renewable energy, including the phase-out of coal-fired power generation, in order to achieve the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.
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[Press Release]G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment closes: Japan, as the host country, should present a concrete roadmap to 1.5°C, including a timeframe for phasing out coal-fired power generation(2023/4/17)
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