G7 Leaders falter on climate leadership

Posted on May, 25 2023

The G7 Summit, held from 19 to 21 May 2023 in Hiroshima, Japan, marked the 48th meeting of leaders of the world’s most advanced economies. It took place in the shadow of many geopolitical issues that are shifting traditional alliances and approaches to global challenges, such as the climate and nature crisis. 

Political signals from G7 Summit

This is a vital year for the political consolidation of the Paris Agreement, as its first Global Stocktake will take place at COP28. Ahead of this key milestone, much was expected from the G7 Summit, as it was the first global meeting of leaders this year. It is critical for these types of meetings to set the political tone for what must be done to tackle climate change and protect nature.

“We did not see the new and strong political signals of ambition we needed at the G7 Summit. As the ‘club’ of the biggest economies, we expect more and faster action, in line with the latest science. What we saw is concerning. These leaders showed they are not aligned to what is necessary to keep the world on a pathway to limit global warming to 1.5˚C”, said WWF Climate and Energy Policy Head, Fernanda de Carvalho.

She added, “G7 leaders must step up their own efforts and pledge further support for developing countries at other important multilateral moments in 2023. These include the G20 Summits, the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, the UN Climate Ambition Summit, the International Climate and Energy Summit and COP 28.”

G7 still not supporting phase out of all fossil fuels

The G7 comments on energy seemed to be mainly driven by short-term national energy security concerns, rather than the global need to phase out the use of fossil fuels as the main way to address the climate crisis. WWF’s Global Energy Lead, Dean Cooper said the insistence of Germany to increase the use of LNG, and Japan’s refusal to end the use of coal, reflects a very short-sighted view of the climate disaster that is currently facing our world.  

“We simply don’t have time for more caveats and exceptions,” Cooper said. “The need for a faster, greener, and fairer energy transition for all is not reflected in this disappointing output.  The G7 nations must rather all work together with full commitment to effective action, providing clear direction towards the clean energy future that the world so desperately needs.”

Recognition of energy efficiency as a key tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the G7 marks a significant advancement, though this will need to be supported soon by binding targets for all nations. Similarly, the acknowledgement of the link between climate, energy, and nature is also an important step forward, but again the type of supportive activity and resources needs to be more clearly defined, he said.

G7 countries must support science based targets for global shipping 

The G7 committed to strengthen efforts to decarbonize the global shipping sector, which is responsible for 3% of global emissions. This is an important step, especially as crucial decisions will be taken at the International Maritime Organization’s July meeting of the committee negotiating to cut emissions from ships. 

While this is a welcome commitment, WWF Global Climate and Business Lead, Bhavna Prasad, argues that, “The countries with the world’s biggest economies must be doing more. All G7 members must support science-based targets for 2030 and 2040, along with achieving net-zero emissions before 2050. In addition, they should be supporting a goal of 10% of production and use of Scalable Zero-Emission Fuel by 2030.”

Missed opportunity on loss and damage

The G7 missed an opportunity to set the pace for other countries to follow on a number of issues, but specifically on support to vulnerable developing countries.

WWF Senior Advisor, Global Climate Adaptation Policy, Sandeep Chamling Rai, said they “failed in their responsibility to address the climate crisis that has been fuelled substantially by the emissions from G7 nations. We needed tangible commitments on loss and damage finance and debt cancellation, and we didn’t see that.”
G7 leaders meet in Hiroshima, Japan.
© Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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