G7 poised for historic call to phase out fossil fuel emissions

Delegates at summit indicate Angela Merkel has won battle for group of seven to target carbon pollution end

G7 countries are responsible for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

G7 countries are responsible for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

By Ed King

G7 leaders appear to be edging towards agreeing on an historic target to wipe out greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century.

Talks on climate change ran late into Sunday night as officials debated a variety of carbon cutting options, RTCC understands.

These included a goal proposed by the EU to cut emissions 60% on 2010 levels by 2050, with full decarbonisation by 2100, and another goal for G7 countries to decarbonize their own energy sectors by 2050.

European Council president Donald Tusk led calls on Sunday for leaders to be ambitious, and lay the groundwork for a proposed UN pact, due to be signed in Paris this coming December.

“The fight against climate change is global — it goes way beyond Europe and G7. If we are not united in the G7, how can we convince others?” he said.

Summit chair and German chancellor Angela Merkel – who met with US president Barack Obama for one-on-one talks on Saturday night – is pushing hard for a united front on climate when the meeting wraps up on Monday.

Christoph Schott, a campaigner with the NGO Avaaz at the meeting said it was now “very very likely” text on a long term goal would make the final communique, due out at midday on Monday, but added it was unclear what form it would take.

“We understand that Canada and Japan are pushing back against reference to the G7’s role in the decarbonisation target”, said Liz Gallagher, head of climate diplomacy at the E3G think tank.

Merkel also wants G7 parties to ramp up support for the UN’s Green Climate Fund, part of a wider effort to deliver $100 billion of climate finance a year to poor countries by 2020.

Two weeks ago she announced Germany would double its contribution to the GCF, and asked fellow G7 leaders to work on a plan to hit $100 billion by the end of the decade.

“If the G7 is not able to agree a process to secure a clear pathway to $100bn by 2020, this would be a significant missed opportunity to progress the finance debate before Paris”, Gallagher added.

Report: Millions of businesses call for zero carbon shift

In a sign of growing hopes the G7 could deliver a significant boost to UN climate talks, on Sunday thousands of leading businesses issued a call for the G7 to adopt a long term goal

“We want a global climate deal that achieves net zero emissions well before the end of the century, and that to be a firm commitment at COP21 In Paris in December,” said Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business.

A coalition of UK NGOs including Greenpeace, WWF and CAFOD also issued a plea to prime minister David Cameron to support a zero emissions target.

Getting previously reluctant governments from the US, Canada and Japan to agree to a long term climate goal would be hugely significant for global efforts to secure agreement in Paris, said Jennifer Morgan from the World Resources Institute.

“It makes a difference – having the G7 signal in any way they’re up for along term goal that makes avoiding 2C  [of warming] more real would I hope be a shot in arm for the in debate in the UN – it matters,” she said.

A number of options for a legally binding carbon cutting UN deal are being discussed at separate talks taking place in Bonn from June 1-11.

These include a complete phase out of all fossil fuels by 2050 or a goal to ensure all emissions were ‘net-zero’, meaning they would have to be stored underground or offset through mass tree planting.

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