G7 disappoints with fossil fuel 'loophole'
Leaders of the G7 nations tone down a major vow on eliminating foreign finance for fossil fuels.
The G7 countries — the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States — concluded a summit in the Bavarian Alps by reiterating their commitment to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to renewable energy.
However, after three days of bargaining, they decided to authorize public investment in new international fossil fuel projects under specific circumstances, as nations seek to break free from Russian oil, coal, and gas in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.
Friederike Roder, vice president at the non-profit group Global Citizen, said German Chancellor and summit host Olaf Scholz "promised a crucial boost for international climate action and he didn't deliver."
An alliance of civil society organizations, notably Oil Change International, delivered a harsh judgment, criticizing the "loopholes" in the final communique on gas.
The agreement reiterates that the G7 countries would continue to freeze new public investments in foreign fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022.
However, because of the "exceptional circumstances" of the Ukraine war, publicly supported investment in the gas sector can be appropriate as a temporary response.
According to observers, Germany and Italy, which rely significantly on Russian energy, lobbied hard for the altered text.
They are scrambling to store gas before winter and diversify supplies, as they prepare for Russia to turn off the energy taps entirely after lately slowing delivery.
Germany has already opted to restart idled coal-fired power reactors to compensate for the Russian shortage, and it is considering a new gas project in Senegal.
When asked about the fossil fuel relapse, Scholz emphasized that the current actions were only temporary and would not undermine Germany's climate goals or postpone its transition to renewables.
The "worry" of a return to polluting fossil fuels was highlighted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
"We don't want to go back on our commitments," he said at a press conference.
"Even though we access new sources of gas supply, these are replacing Russian sources. We are not increasing the long-term supply of gas," he said, calling the upheaval "an emergency".
All G7 leaders reiterated the Paris Agreement's commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
They also reaffirmed their prior promise to decarbonize their electrical sectors by 2035.
The pledge to a "highly decarbonized road sector by 2030" is one of the few new commitments in the final declaration.
Scholz's headline idea at the summit, the establishment of an international "climate club", was also agreed upon by US President Joe Biden and his peers.
The goal is to coordinate climate action while minimizing competitive disadvantages among members, for instance through exchanging clean technology or agreeing on common standards for carbon pricing or green hydrogen.
However, detractors argue the concept is too imprecise and risks becoming "just another club," according to Greenpeace Germany executive director Martin Kaiser.
G7 leaders promised to "intensify" efforts to mobilize climate finance for poor nations, many of which are already facing the devastating effects of excessive heatwaves, droughts, and floods.
However, a long-standing aim of spending $100 billion per year beginning in 2020 to assist vulnerable nations in adapting to climate change remains unfulfilled.
Environmentalists argued the G7 had done nothing to reenergize the United Nations COP27 session in Egypt in November.
Alex Scott, from the climate think tank E3G, believes that "Chancellor Scholz has failed to mobilize new climate commitments from G7 leaders, leaving a huge gap for them to fill in the next four months to have credibility come COP27."