Climate Weekly: Climate to suffer as G7 splits

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The G8 already exiled Russia to become the G7. As leaders head to Charlevoix, Canada, it looks increasingly likely to become the G6… at this summit at least.

Donald Trump’s decision to impose punitive tariffs has alienated the US’ former strongest allies. It widens the rift caused by his break from the consensus on climate change. And he is reportedly planning to leave early on Saturday, skipping environmental discussions.

Whoever wins the trade war, the climate loses. In a critical year for raising ambition and writing the Paris Agreement rulebook, calls for climate finance to the developing world are drowned out by the clash of economic powers.

The bloc is also far from meeting its commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, worth an estimated $100 billion a year. If only that money could be diverted to climate finance…

It falls to events like the Petersberg Climate Dialogue and California governor Jerry Brown’s summit to sooth troubled international relations. Soila Apparicio has mapped out nine key milestones on the road to the Cop24 climate summit in Katowice.

Chinese leadership

Look east for one reason to be cheerful. An influential government thinktank is recommending China consider updating its national climate pledge in the coming year, long before the Paris Agreement demands it in 2025.

The country has “the potential and conditions for improving” its carbon-cutting plan, according to the NCSC.

This is not yet policy, observers cautioned, but starts a domestic process that could raise ambition, even in the absence of peer pressure from the US.

Spain shake-up

In Europe, government changes in Spain and, to a lesser extent, Italy bring progressive voices on climate change to the fore.

Teresa Ribera, known in climate circles as director of French thinktank Iddri, has been appointed to lead Spain’s newly merged energy and environment ministry.

She immediately joined calls for the EU to strengthen its climate targets and speed up the transition to clean energy. El Pais reports Spanish diplomats have already been briefed on the change of direction.

Climate conversations

Court cases will expose Big Oil’s hypocrisy on climate change – Dana Drugmand

Counting sheep

In some cultures, counting sheep is a cure for insomnia. In New Zealand, it is essential to the credibility of Jacinda Ardern’s climate leadership.

The government has launched a consultation on a proposed climate law, including an option that would essentially give its highest emitting sector a free pass.

If the “zero carbon bill” is defined to exempt methane and nitrous oxide emissions, campaigners warn, it will let farmers off the hook for their climate impact.

Aloha state

Talking of climate laws, Hawaii has signed a bill to go carbon neutral by 2045. While not among the biggest US emitters, it is blazing a trail for state-level action and islands breaking their dependence on diesel imports.

Coal exit

Germany launched a hotly anticipated commission to set a phase-out plan for coal, which despite the country’s renewables boom still generates a third of electricity.

Some accuse the government of ducking responsibility, by outsourcing the controversial decision to no fewer than 31 representatives of competing interests. Four co-chairs have just six months to steer them to consensus.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute, there to inject climate science into the discussion, defended the approach. “If this enterprise succeeds, the political culture in Germany will be a big winner,” he said in a statement.

Silent critics

In a regime that is increasingly intolerant of dissent, this may not get much attention. But a poll shows Turkey’s coal power plant spree has very little public support.

The survey by Konda for climate information hub İklim Haber found Turks overwhelmingly prefer renewable energy. Three quarters are worried about climate change and just 8% thought the government was “strongly likely” to take action.

While it is not a dominant issue in campaigning for the general election later this month, there may be an untapped appetite for greener policies.

Read more on: Climate politics