The Group of Seven nations are sparring over a timeline for phasing out coal-fired power ahead of next week’s summit of top energy and environment ministers.
Draft statement documents circulated before negotiations resumed on Tuesday and seen by Bloomberg News show that the European Union, the United States and Japan expressed reservations about the UK’s proposal to set a 2030 deadline for phasing out domestic coal power generation.
The language, which had the support of France, would have also recognized the need to “cancele the pipeline of new global coal power generation projects”, and thus the G7 countries committed to ending the construction of new domestic coal-fired power plants and working. With international partners to finish similar efforts globally.
While Japan, the United States and the European Union indicated reservations, Germany offered alternative language that would emphasize the goal of phasing out domestic coal power generation “ideally by 2030” or “in 2030”. Japan, which hosts the G7 this year, has proposed reaffirming the commitment made in last year’s G7 leaders’ statement to “achieve a fully or mostly decarbonized energy sector by 2035.”
Representatives of the European Union Commission and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry did not immediately respond to requests for comment made during a European holiday and outside normal business hours in Asia. The US State Department did not comment.
The deliberations may reflect unease over the technical ability of Central and Eastern European countries to meet the 2030 deadline and, in the US, over the political ramifications for the federal government adopting a firm coal deadline. But they risk showing G7 countries less intent on moving coal into history months before a crucial United Nations climate summit in Dubai where nearly 200 countries will be pressured to phase out fossil fuels.
The risk, said Alden Meyer, a senior affiliate, is that the final communiqué of the Group of Seven nations, issued at the summit on April 15-16 in Sapporo, Japan, will provide fodder for other nations critical of rich nations’ progress and commitment to combating global warming. In E3G Consulting.
“Every time they start getting relentless cuts from fossil fuel financing or land transportation or coal,” Meyer said, “they give other countries excuses to say, ‘Well, you’re talking big game, but you’re making nothing at home.’” They should try to build on the last two G7s under the UK and Germany, but they are at least in danger of stalling – if not backing off – on some fronts.”
The negotiators, who met for a week in virtual meetings at the end of March, are also still arguing about pushing Japan into language endorsing the use of its hydrogen and ammonia as an energy source. Many countries have pushed to qualify such subsidies, saying its use must be consistent with other climate and decarbonization goals, and only occur when pollution associated with nitrogen oxides is quashed.
In the midst of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Japan has also encouraged language supportive of investments in natural gas and LNG to “bridging the gap” to secure affordable energy supplies – an effort that matches the appeal of many US business groups. But many countries backtracked, with the US emboldened by the warning that natural gas should be a transitional energy source only for “those countries that can afford it and are committed” to the transition toward net zero energy.
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