"Accelerate" their "exit" from fossil fuels in all sectors, this is what the energy, climate and environment ministers of the industrialized countries of the G7 committed to on Sunday 16 April, during a summit on the climate which has been held since Saturday in Sapporo (northern Japan). However, no new deadline has been set.
This new objective, announced in a joint press release following a ministerial meeting, does not concern fossil fuels with CO2 capture and storage devices.
In terms of the environment, the countries of the group have notably committed to reducing their plastic pollution to zero by 2040, thanks to the circular economy, the reduction or the abandonment of disposable and non-recyclable plastics.
Carbon neutrality by 2050
The members of the G7 (United States, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Canada) confine themselves to recalling that this objective is part of their efforts to achieve energy carbon neutrality by 2050 "at most late ". Last year, the G7 had already committed to decarbonizing its electricity sector for the most part by 2035, a goal reconfirmed on Sunday.
Sign of difficult negotiations, the G7 failed to commit specifically to a date for the end of coal for electricity generation, while the United Kingdom, supported by France, had proposed the deadline of 2030 .
The decision to get out of all fossil fuels nevertheless marks a "strong step forward", reacted to Agence France-Presse the Minister for the French energy transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher. "It's an important point of support to be able to expand this approach" to the G20 in India and the United Nations (UN) climate conference (COP28) in Dubai later this year, a- she said, "while admitting that these future global negotiations" are not going to be easy.
The latest alarming IPCC report
The club of the main industrialized countries had to show unity and voluntarism after the last alarming summary report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in March.
According to the IPCC, global warming caused by human activity will reach 1.5°C relative to the pre-industrial era as early as 2030-2035. This further jeopardizes the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the rise in temperatures to this level, or at least well below 2°C.
The G7 also reaffirmed on Sunday its commitment to work with other developed countries to raise 100 billion dollars a year for emerging countries against global warming, a promise dating from 2009 and which was initially to be kept from 2020.
A summit to improve access to climate finance for developing countries, a sensitive and crucial point for the success of COP28, is notably scheduled for the end of June in Paris.
Need to reduce gas demand
Due to the very tense global geopolitical context, with the war in Ukraine since last year, and conservative proposals from Japan, which notably wanted the G7 to endorse upstream investments in gas, environmental non-governmental organizations feared that the Sapporo meeting leads to a regression of climate commitments.
In a statement similar to last year's, the G7 acknowledged in its statement that investments in natural gas "may be appropriate" to help some countries avoid potential war-related energy shortages in Ukraine.
But, at the same time, the G7 reiterated the primacy of a "clean" energy transition and the need to reduce gas demand.
Japan's other proposal to have ammonia and hydrogen recognized as "clean" co-fuels for thermal power plants was also surrounded by safeguards. These technologies must be developed from "low-carbon and renewable" sources, the G7 insisted.