The G7 agrees to decarbonize the electricity sector, but without a calendar

Ministers from the world’s richest democracies agreed Friday to work to phase out coal-fired power, but did not set a timetable and said the energy crisis for the war between Russia and Ukraine must not derail the fight against climate change.

The compromise, published at the end of three days of talks in the group of seven (G7) in Berlin, was weaker than an earlier draft of the final communique seen by Reuters, which had included a goal to end coal power generation without interruption by 2030.

Sources familiar with the discussions said both Japan and the United States said they could not support such a deadline.

Still, it is the first commitment by the G7 to abandon coal power, whose use must be curtailed if the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Coal is the fossil fuel that emits the most CO2 and their use must plummet if the world is to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The group met against the backdrop of spiraling energy costs and concerns about fuel supplies due to the war in ukraine. The conflict has sparked a scramble among some countries to buy more non-Russian fossil fuels and burn coal to reduce their reliance on Russian supplies.

The substitution of fossil fuels from Russia has dominated political debate and government actions in recent weeks and months,” German Economics Minister Robert Habeck told a news conference.

“But we must be clear that the challenges of our political generation, the limitation of global warming, will not disappear if we only concentrate on the present,” he said. “Time is literally running out.”

The G7 also agreed to largely decarbonize their energy sectors by 2035 and stop publicly funding “no reduction” fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of this year, except in limited circumstances.

The term “non-reducing” refers to power plants that do not use technology to capture their emissions.

The statement commits to achieving a highly decarbonized road sector by 2030, including a significant increase in the sale, share and adoption of zero-emission light-duty vehicles.

The G7 also set out to start reporting publicly next year on how countries are meeting an earlier commitment to end “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.

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