The world’s richest countries have pledged to end public support for coal-fired power stations this year.
Three weeks before a summit in England, the G7 countries pledged “ambitious and accelerated efforts” to reduce their CO2 emissions.
Made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, the G7 said limiting the rise in temperature to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would require “significant action by all countries and in particular the major emitting economies”.
The 1.5°C target is the point at which scientists believe climate change will get out of hand.
To achieve this the countries are first targeting coal, which they say is “the main cause of rising temperatures”.
“Recognising that continued global investment in coal-fired power generation is incompatible with the 1.5°C objective, we insist that international investment in unmined coal must stop now,” the group said in a statement.
The move comes six months ahead of a crucial COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, said it was “an important step forward, because only in this way can we, as industrialised countries, credibly demand that others follow us in this direction”.
“It is a very strong signal to the world that coal is an energy of the past and has no place in our energy mix,” French Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili told The Guardian. “It was a very difficult decision to make, especially for Japan.
According to the United Nations, emissions would have to fall by almost 8% a year to stay within the 1.5°C global rise foreseen in the Paris agreement, which would be equivalent to saving the same amount of emissions each year until 2030 as during the pandemic.
Beyond coal, the G7 countries agreed to “significantly accelerate” their efforts to move away from hydrocarbons for transport in the coming decade.
They pledged to act as “champions” of diversity by preserving or protecting at least 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the world’s oceans to halt the loss of diversity.
This week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the world must “now” abandon any new oil and gas projects beyond those already approved to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
The UK branch of the environmental organisation Greenpeace welcomed the measures announced on coal: “This leaves China isolated on the world stage with its funding of the most polluting energy source.
“Unfortunately, too many of the commitments made remain vague when we need them to be precise and accompanied by a timetable,” the organisation regretted.