G7 leaders must fulfil their promise to stop funding fossil fuels

Comment: Rich nations’ leaders need to uphold their commitment to a clean and sustainable energy future.

A protest at Cop26 against Japan's financing of coal. Photo: Friends of the Earth International


As G7 Leaders gather in Hiroshima this weekend, they are faced with a choice: double down on their commitments and shift towards a clean, sustainable, and more secure energy future or continue the destructive path of fossil fuel dependence and climate chaos.

Last month climate ministers from the group of wealthy nations stated they are “steadfast in their commitment to … keeping a limit of 1.5°C global temperature rise within reach”.

If they want to stay true to their word, they must close the door to new gas investments, including for hazardous Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), keep their commitment to end international fossil fuel finance, and resist Japan’s push for fossil-fuel based technologies.

End fossil fuel investment

Stopping new gas projects is critical to avoiding the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

The latest reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that maintaining a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires an immediate end to investments in new coal, oil, and gas production and hazardous liquified fossil gas infrastructure.

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These findings remain unchanged in the context of the war in Ukraine and its impact on global energy markets.

Leaving the door open for new investments in gas is also in direct contradiction to last year’s G7 commitment to end international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022 “except in limited circumstances … consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit”.

Broken promise

Last month in Sapporo G7 ministers claimed they fulfilled this commitment.

But this is simply not true.

We understand that Italy approved financing for the Santos Basin oil and gas production project in Brazil this year.

The Japanese export credit agency, JBIC, recently approved $393 million for a gas-fired power plant in Uzbekistan.

During a recent visit to Mozambique, Prime Minister Kishida also committed to reviving controversial Mozambique LNG projects which have been associated with local devastation, repression and violence.

A bilateral meeting between Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida and the UK prime minister Rishi Sunak. Photo: Number 10

Germany has not yet presented a policy for implementing the commitment to end international fossil fuel finance. The USA has adopted a policy, but it is not public.

The G7 members that have followed through, Canada, the UK and France, are in a strong position to push back against backsliding at the G7 Leaders’ Summit, while supporting fellow members in their implementation efforts.

Redirecting billions towards clean energy

An Oil Change International briefing underlines the importance of advancing this agenda. It shows that between 2020 and 2022 fossil fuel support from G7 countries totalled at least $73 billion. This is almost 2.6 times their clean energy support over the same period.

By upholding last year’s commitments, the G7 can directly shift $24.3 billion a year in public finance out of fossil fuels and into clean energy.  This would raise G7 finance to a sum almost large enough to close the clean energy access gap.

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Rather than promoting outdated and climate-destroying fossil fuel technologies across Asia and Africa, Japan should meet its promise to end international finance for fossil fuels.

It should also ensure that, together with fellow rich countries, it delivers its fair share of climate, loss and damage and just energy transition finance support to the Global South.

Shifting to clean energy and phasing out fossil fuel reliance is critical to permanently bring down soaring energy costs and increase energy security.

Renewable energy technologies are more affordable and can be scaled up more rapidly. They also help avoid fiscal instability linked to volatile fossil fuel prices and stranded asset risks as global gas demand drops.

A plea to Japan

Japan should not be allowed to continue to misuse its position as the G7 host to promote its fossil-fuel heavy energy strategy. Japan, and other G7 countries who are breaking their commitments, are harming our planet, and it is time for the world to hold them accountable.

The only effective answer to the climate crisis and energy security objectives is explicitly ruling out investments in new upstream gas and liquified fossil gas infrastructure, delivering on commitments to end international public finance for fossil fuels and phase-out fossil fuels in line with 1.5°C.

By shifting to renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuel reliance, we can secure a more secure, prosperous future for Africa, Asia, and worldwide. The G7 must act now to ensure a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future.

Elizabeth Bast is the Executive Director of Oil Change International, Tasneem Essop is the Executive Director of the Climate Action Network and Kanna Mitsuta is the Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Japan.

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