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Blog Post 15 June 2021

Five key climate takeaways from the G7 summit

At the G7 summit, which took place in Cornwall over the weekend, Boris Johnson set out his intention to tackle the climate crisis, protect the natural environment, and ‘build back better for the world’.

Here, we take a look at five key commitments made by the world’s seven largest economies to address the climate emergency.


Reaffirm commitment to 1.5°C threshold

With 2021 set to be an important year for climate change, the G7 nations reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement to keep the 1.5°C global warming threshold within reach.

The world leaders committed to accelerating efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by “strengthening adaptation and resilience to protect people from the impacts of climate change, halting and reversing biodiversity loss, mobilising finance and leveraging innovation”.


Commit to net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest

Recognising the importance of significant action to tackle emissions this decade, the G7 leaders have committed to increased 2030 emission reduction targets to cut collective emissions by around half relative to 2010. The UK has gone further, pledging to cut emissions by at least 68% by 2030 on 1990 levels.

They called on other countries – particularly the highest emitting nations – to join in these goals as part of a global effort, to increase commitments to addressing the climate emergency ahead of the much-anticipated COP26 climate event, which is taking place in Glasgow in November.


Lead a technology-driven transition to net zero

In the transition to net zero, the G7 leaders confirmed that technological advancements must be supported by relevant policies, with the most urgent and polluting sectors and activities tackled as a priority.

In energy, they reconfirmed intentions to increase energy efficiency, accelerate the roll-out of renewable and other zero emissions energy, reduce waste and leverage innovation.

In transport, they committed to scaling up zero emission vehicle technologies, acknowledging that the pace of the decarbonisation of the road transport sector must dramatically increase this decade. The G7 leaders also agreed to follow the UK’s lead in the phase-out of sales of petrol and diesel vehicles, however they did not commit to a timeline.

In homes and buildings, the leaders recognised the “need for an urgent step change” in the uptake of renewable heating and cooling systems, as well as a reduction in energy demand. They also welcomed the Super-Energy Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative’s goal of doubling the efficiency of lighting, cooling, refrigeration and motor systems sold globally by 2030.


Adopt stricter measures on burning coal

The G7 leaders agreed to accelerate the transition away from coal plants, unless they have technology to capture carbon emissions, recognising the contribution of coal power generation to greenhouse gas emissions.

They agreed to end direct government support for ‘unabated’ coal power (ie burning coal without capturing carbon emissions) by the end of 2021 and will offer up to £2 billion ($2.8 billion) to help developing countries shift away from using the fossil fuel.


Protect biodiversity and tackle deforestation

Finally, the G7 leaders agreed commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, as well as tackle deforestation, marine litter and illegal wildlife trade.

One of the key elements of the agreed G7 Nature Compact is to support the target to conserve or protect at least 30% of global land and at least 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030 – known as the 30×30 initiative.

The UK also announced a £500 million Blue Planet Fund to help tackle unsustainable fishing, protect and restore coral reefs, and reduce marine pollution.

What else?

One thing the G7 did not deliver was on its promise to support developing nations struggling to cope with climate change with $100 billion a year by 2020, in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And while some bilateral deals have offered top-up funding, it’s still likely to fall short of the $100 billion mark.

Two of the seven nations announced firm spending commitments after the summit ended on Sunday. Canada confirmed it would double its climate pledge to $4.4 billion over the next five years, while Germany said it would increase its spending to €6 billion ($7.26 billion) a year by 2025.

With details of the G7’s climate commitments still lacking, all eyes will remain on the UK between now and November, when it’s hoped that a global climate agreement will be reached at COP26 in Glasgow.

Last updated: 15 June 2021