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The G7 is a pack of economically heavy hitting countries including Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union. The G7 may be informal, but when they make an announcement, it’s generally something that other governments around the world pay attention to.
And as of this week, the G7 is agreeing to phase out fossil fuels entirely by 2100. Additionally, they have agreed to make 100% of all their electricity generation come from clean sources by 2050, yet another leap in the right direction. To help developing countries make similar transitions, the summit also agreed to establish a $100 billion-per-year fund slated for aiding developing countries in preparing for, and adapting to climate change.
The G7’s latest summit took place in Germany, with the G7 leaders agreeing to conform to the IPCC’s recommendations to cut global greenhouse gas emissions 40-70% from 2010 levels by 2050. Leading up to December’s UN Climate Summit, the G7’s announcement is being hailed by some environmental groups as hope for total decarbonization to be a main agenda item in Paris.
Groups like 350.org are pointing to the G7’s agreement as a clear indication that the world must, and will, move away from fossil fuels. This will potentially send a signal to investors that further investments in fossil fuel stock will be “stranded assets,” as the industry as a whole shutters and shifts toward renewable sources.
The agreement to generate all electricity from renewable sources by 2050 is predicted to have economic benefits as well, with some organizations positing that it could generate as many as 6 million new jobs in the US alone. The Solutions Project has even created a plan for how countries could achieve the 100% clean energy goal, including predictions about how many jobs it could create:
The news is undeniably good, but still leaves a lot left to do. For one, the G7 agreement stopped short of immediate and binding emissions targets from each country. Second, according to the Climate Action Tracker, the current emissions reduction policies being put forward by the G7 countries won’t keep us under the 2 degrees Celsius level of warming that scientists say could trigger the worst impacts of climate change. In fact, they are more on the path to 3.6-4.2 degrees of warming. And the relatively long phase out between now and the end of the century will result in more fossil fuels burned— something we need to avoid.
For better or worse, China and India are still unaccounted for in the calculus for reductions, and with their outsized portion of carbon emissions (now and in the future), their participation will be critical to any real chance at success. In the race to reduce emissions before we heat things up too much, the catch is that the longer we put off reducing emissions, the more expensive it will be to keep us below that 2 degree Celsius threshold.
But as Climate Action Tracker points out, that’s still a possibility that we can achieve. Sending the world a message that the G7 has agreed to phase out fossil fuels is a great start. Let’s keep the pressure on to ensure that it actually happens, and in a timetable that prevents the worst climate change impacts.
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