Group of Seven Agrees to Stop International Funding for Coal

Vapor rises from chimneys at the Belchatow coal powered power plant, operated by PGE SA, in Belchatow, Poland. (Photographer: Bartek Sadowski/Bloomberg)

Group of Seven Agrees to Stop International Funding for Coal

The Group of Seven nations agreed to stop international financing of coal projects this year, in a move that was welcomed by activists.

The countries agreed to align their policies to the key target of keeping global temperature rises within 1.5°C. International financing will be synced with the global goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. They will also commit to “deep emission reductions in the 2020s.”

The adoption of these commitments will be seen as a diplomatic win for the U.K., which holds the G-7 presidency and is hosting a crucial round of climate talks in Glasgow later this year.

“Today’s G-7 Climate and Environment ministers meeting is a step change from the last four years and lays the foundation for the G-7 to become an engine for keeping 1.5 degrees in reach,” said Jennifer Tollman, senior policy advisor at think tank E3G.

Friday’s agreement came after initial opposition from Japan, which was responsible for more than half of the $6.6 billion of coal support from G-7 countries in 2019, according to Bloomberg NEF.

The statement calls for an end to international support for “unabated” thermal coal generation this year -- coal where the emissions aren’t captured. It also promises to phase out government support for “carbon intensive international fossil fuel energy” in a way that’s in line with the Paris goals. However, limited exceptions are to be allowed. It reiterates a pledge to stop “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” by 2025.

Annual fossil fuel subsidies were valued at $5.2 trillion in 2017, equal to 6.5% of the global economy, according to the International Monetary Fund. The IMF found that more efficient fossil fuel pricing in 2015 would have cut carbon emissions by 28%.

Urgency

“I think there was a unique sense of urgency that motivated all the partners here,” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry told reporters.

Ministers met just days after the International Energy Agency said an immediate stop to any new oil, gas and coal field development was needed in order to reach the Paris goals. The G-7 stopped short of adopting that path. But Kerry said he commended the IEA report, which he described as “one of the most critical public statements on this entire issue.”

The ministers also agreed to provide some new financial support to help the energy transition in developing countries and emerging economies, and agreed on a goal to halt and reverse biodiversity losses by 2030.

Still, activists noted the lack of more concrete steps on international climate financing to help poorer countries tackle climate change.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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