New Renewable Energy Targets Set by G7 Ministers

The G7, short for group of seven rich nations, set a large new collective targets for solar and offshore wind capacity, they agreed to speed up collective efforts towards renewable energy research and development in an effort to phase out the use of fossil fuels. 

Agreeing as a group, they also rescinded their 2030 deadline for eliminating coal that nations like Canada among others had previously pushed for. Countries are now open to invest in gas and coal which could ease the energy shortfalls that have been seen globally. 

“In the midst of an unprecedented energy crisis, it’s important to come up with measures to tackle climate change and promote energy security at the same time,” Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters. 

He also had this to say about the collective 2050 target: 

“While acknowledging that there are diverse pathways to achieve carbon neutral, we agreed on the importance of aiming for a common goal toward 2050,”

Sunday marks the conclusion of two days of G7 ministerial deliberations on climate, energy, and environmental policy in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, renewable fuel sources and energy security have taken on greater urgency.

“Initially people thought that climate action and action on energy security potentially were in conflict. But discussions which we had and which are reflected in the communique are that they actually work together,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s minister of natural resources.

The group collectively pledged to increase offshore wind farm capacity by 150 Gigawatts by 2030 and edge solar capacity to over 1 terawatt. 

They agreed to accelerate “the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels” – the burning of fossil fuels without using technology to capture the resulting C02 emissions – to achieve net zero in energy systems by 2050 at the latest.

They also agreed to phase out uncaptured fossil fuels, AKA the burning of fossil fuels without using technology that recaptures the emissions, essentially making their burning carbon neutral.

With regards to the use of coal, the countries agreed to prioritise “concrete and timely steps” to slowly phase out it’s use. This is as part of an agreement which has agreed to achieve a predominantly carbon-free power sector by the year 2035.

Canada was one of the nations that were clear that uncaptured coal-power should be gone by 2030, Ottawa, Britain and other G7 members committed to the 2030 deadline, however Canada’s Wilkinson told reporters this: 

“Others are still trying to figure out how they could get there within their relevant timeframe,”

“We are trying to find ways (for) some who are more coal-dependent than others to find technical pathways how to do that,” he said.

Powerful Statements

“The solar and wind commitments are huge statements to the importance that they will rely on the energy superpowers of solar and wind in order to phase out fossil fuels,” said Dave Jones of think tank Ember. 

“Hopefully this will provide a challenge to Japan, for which offshore wind is the missing part of the jigsaw that could see its power sector decarbonise much quicker than it thought possible.”

The G7 nation hosting the summit this time around, Japan, depends on imports for nearly all it’s energy requirements and is pushing for hydrogen as a fuel source. They also want to keep liquefied natural gas as a transition energy source as the country figures out how to accommodate for more renewable energy sources. 

The G7 members said investment in the gas sector “can be appropriate” to address potential market shortfalls provoked by the crisis in Ukraine, if implemented in a manner consistent with climate objectives.

Generally, all G7 members agree that investment into the gas sector is an appropriate way to address potential energy shortages provoked by the crisis in Ukraine. This is when the investment is aligned with climate objectives 

The group targets 2040 for reducing plastic pollution to zero by bringing the target forward another decade from 2050.

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