G7 leaders agreed on Monday that global emissions should be cut 40-70% below 2010 levels by 2050, effectively giving formal backing to the range recommended last year by UN-backed scientists to limit global warming to 2C.
The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, US and EU said the global cuts should be at the “upper end” of the IPCC‘s reccomendation.
They added that “deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century,” in a statement following the two-day annual summit covering several global issues, held this year in Elmau, Germany.
This would eliminate emissions from burning fossil fuels, though does not rule out some discharges being buried underground or offset by planting huge numbers of trees.
“This long-term decarbonization goal will make evident to corporations and financial markets that the most lucrative investments will stem from low-carbon technologies,” said Jennifer Morgan on US-based think tank World Resources Institute.
The leaders also re-affirmed their 2009 backing for the 2C limit, something all nations eventually agreed and that has recently been described as both inadequate and politically unfeasible.
But the G7 failed to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s aim of setting their own longer-term emission targets.
Instead, they agreed only loose wording on “developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050” and to “develop long term national low-carbon strategies”.
The leaders said this December’s global UNFCCC climate agreement “should enhance transparency and accountability including through binding rules at its core to track progress towards achieving targets, which should promote increased ambition over time.”
“By agreeing to decarbonise the global economy inside a strong system of rules, they have set a benchmark for emerging economies such as China to match,” said Nick Mabey of E3G.
Environmental campaigners welcomed the G7 statement as a strong signal but said it was light on details on how to scale up action to reach the long term goals.
This follows a familiar pattern of leaders agreeing far-reaching collective action without taking nearer term steps that may raise costs for their citizens within current electoral cycles.
In 2009, the G7 agreed on a similar goal to halve global emissions by mid-century, including a -80% aim for developed nations.
“The course is right, but more speed, ambition and specific actions are needed,” said Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.
“Though they left out the details, it is clear after this meeting that the days of fossil fuels and carbon pollution are numbered.”
Researchers at Climate Action Tracker called for the G7 to scale up their INDCs ahead of Paris, noting that their current policies are projected to only stabilise emissions at near-current levels through to 2030. The plans of Canada and Japan have faced the most acute criticism.
G7 governments and the EU are responsible for around 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of global GDP.
The G7 deal also fell short of Merkel’s push to set interim goals towards meeting a commitment by all developed nations to mobilise $100 billion a year from 2020 to developing nations to help them tackle climate change.
This rich-poor funding is frequently one of the biggest sticking points in UN climate negotiations, with current cashflows only at around one-third of the 2020 aim and lacking clarity on whether the money is additional, loan-based or includes ways of ensuring environment benefits.
“G7 leaders still aren’t spelling out how they will keep their $100 billion promise by 2020. They’ve failed to commit to increase public funds, which is a vital foundation for success in Paris at the end of the year,” said Tim Gore of development charity Oxfam.
“Developing countries need a credible financial roadmap, not a set of accounting tricks,” he said, adding that Merkel’s government had set a good example by announcing earlier this year that Germany will double the amount it provides over the next five years.
In lieu of firm finance pledges, the G7 stressed that “mobilisation of private sector capital is also crucial for achieving this commitment and unlocking the required investments in low-carbon technologies as well as in building resilience against the effects of climate change”.
To boost investment in poorer nations, the G7 committed to a fourfold increase by 2020 in the number of people in the most vulnerable countries that have access to insurance against climate-induced impacts, which would take the total to 400 million.
They also agreed to agreed to accelerate renewable energy access in Africa and make the Green Climate Fund “a key institution of the future climate finance architecture”.
By Ben Garside – firstname.lastname@example.org