April 2023 in Sapporo: Another agreement from the G7 countries to address climate change. Are the measures sufficient? Are we progressing fast enough?
- G7 countries have pledged to accelerate a gradual phase-out of fossil fuels.
- It means accelerating the shift towards renewable energy. Japan has been a laggard in that regard.
- The objective: “to accelerate the phaseout of unabated fossil fuels so as to achieve net zero in energy systems by 2050”. There is nothing new in this objective.
- In particular, the G7 countries pledged to increase offshore wind capacity by 150 gigawatts and solar capacity to more than 1 terawatt by 2030. These commitments are good news for the environment. We urgently need more of these types of commitments.
- The G7 countries failed to reach an agreement on phasing out coal-fired power plants with a firm timeline. Japan is too reliant on coal and natural gas. This lack of commitment is short-term thinking risking human lives of young individuals and of next generations.
- Temperatures have already risen by 1.1C since the pre-industrial era. It is now almost certainly impossible to limit global temperature below 1.5C.
- There was no real commitment to fully decarbonize the power sector, and to eliminate fossil fuel finance. The climate emergency seems a foreign concept to some of the rich-world leaders.
- Regarding plastic pollution, the G7 countries have promised to reduce it to zero by 2040, thanks in particular to the circular economy and the reduction or abandonment of disposable and non-recyclable plastics.
- Geopolitics came into play, especially on the topic of nuclear power, with Russia being one of the world’s largest suppliers of enriched uranium for civilian nuclear programs, with around 40 per cent of enrichment capacity.
- In Canada: “The electricity sector is accelerating its decarbonization at breakneck speed” according to the Federal Minister of the Environment, Steven Guilbeault. However, the Canadian oil and gas sector has been the main culprit in the dismaying performance of Canada with respect to GHG emission reduction.
Conclusion: While admiring the efforts made so far to address climate change, we don’t need to be an expert on climate to realize that those steps are not sufficient to address the climate urgency. We need to do MORE.