G7’s focus on energy security ‘at odds with’ climate goals

Green groups slam G7 pledge on energy and climate targets, arguing it opens door for gas and coal

(Pic: G7/Flickr)

(Pic: G7/Flickr)

By John McGarrity

The G7’s support for UN climate talks and efforts to cap a rise in global CO2 are contradicted by  moves to beef up energy security using domestic supplies of gas and coal, green groups said following a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, UK and the US said the crisis in Ukraine meant that energy security would be placed at the centre of the bloc’s agenda, but campaigners claim the G7 will favour gas over renewables, and promote the use of coal by promising to install carbon capture and storage.

“Energy dependence drives dangerous climate change as much as it fuels conflicts. G7 leaders might sound like they agree, but they’re bluffing. Their plan for energy security focuses on swapping Russian oil and gas for dirty and risky energy from elsewhere,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

It added: “Let’s not kid ourselves: timid steps by Obama and the EU to cut carbon emissions are not enough.”

However President Obama on Wednesday that the US had shown its determination through a plan announced earlier this week to cut emissions from power plants by 2030, calling on other countries to participate in a “global effort”.

He added that energy diversification and energy efficiency could be combined to make the US and EU “not only more politically secure and economically secure but also more environmentally secure.”

Nuclear potential

Building on an EU summit in Rome last month, the G7 said  the world’s most economically powerful democratic countries should develop domestic sources of energy, such as gas, and make it easier to import and export the fuel through pipelines and LNG terminals.

While the G7 called for increased use of renewable energy, it added that countries should encourage the use of technologies that work as “a baseload energy source”, which would leave the door open to coal as well as nuclear.

“Only a shift to an efficient energy system run fully on renewables can free our economies from the shackles of energy dependence,” Greenpeace said, against growing concerns that the spat between G7 countries and Russia will be a boon for the fossil fuel industry in North America and the EU.

Critics of renewable energy say intermittent supply of wind and solar are an unreliable and a very expensive alternative to Russian gas, imports of which the EU wants to steer away from in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

The US and the UK have argued that exploiting indigenous supplies of shale gas and an expansion of gas trading would lessen Russia’s clout in international energy markets.

The UN has asked countries that make up the G7 – all major emitters of greenhouse gases – to say by the first quarter of next year how much CO2 they are prepared to cut in future decades and what policies and changes in energy use will be deployed to meet these targets.

The submissions are intended to form the basis of negotiation at a climate summit in Paris at the end of 2015, where a successor to the Kyoto Protocol could be agreed.


The G7’s call for countries “that are ready to do so,” to communicate the measures in the first three months of next year reflects tensions within the grouping and the G20 about when submissions to the UN’s climate arm, according to Jake Schmidt, an expert on global climate policy.

G7 countries reaffirm commitment to propose #climate targets in early 2015-Canada & Australia were blocking http://t.co/6W11yzqOTh

— Jake Schmidt – NRDC (@jschmidtnrdc) June 5, 2014

Australia, which hosts a G20 summit In July, has blocked climate policy from the official agenda, reflecting the scepticism of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, while Canada is keen to defend its plans to ramp up exports of oil from tar sands at UN climate talks.

G7 and G20 summits will be soon followed by a high-level meeting organised by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in September, which aims to speed up co-operation ahead of the Paris climate summit.

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