Tue, Apr 23 2024 23 April, 2024

G7 nations issue support for gas as “temporary” solution

Climate activists blasted a communique from the G7 nations, which issued qualified support for investment in more gas supplies.

G7 summit flag (Photo credit: Adobe Stock/Rafael Henrique)

At a summit in Japan, G7 nations issued qualified support for investment in gas infrastructure as a “temporary” solution to “potential gas market shortfalls” in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the scramble to find alternative supplies of energy. That position was widely condemned by climate groups, which have called upon governments to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and had pressed more a more assertive position from the forum.

The group of seven industrialized economies met in Hiroshima, Japan on May 19-21, where they discussed the war in Ukraine, relations with China, and the energy and climate crisis.

The official communique recognized the “important role that increased deliveries of LNG can play,” and added that investment in new sources of LNG supply “can be appropriate in response to the current crisis and to address potential gas market shortfalls.” The document stated that even public support for LNG “can be appropriate” in extraordinary circumstances if it does not undercut climate objectives or lead to “lock-in effects.”

At the same time, G7 nations emphasized “the urgent need to accelerate the clean energy transition towards achieving net-zero emissions no later than 2050.” It reiterated commitments to a “fully or predominantly decarbonized power sector by 2035,” an end to the construction of new coal plants, and reiterated a goal of a coal phaseout.

But climate groups said the communique was full of weak commitments and loopholes that allow for the fossil fuel expansion to continue.

“The G7, among the richest nations in the world, have once again proved to be poor leaders on tackling climate change,” Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International, said in a statement. “Paying lip service on the need to keep global warming below 1.5°C while at the same time continuing to invest in gas shows a bizarre political disconnect from science and a complete disregard of the climate emergency.”

The failure to include a specific date for phasing out coal was left out, reportedly due to opposition from Japan. And the inclusion of qualifying language such as a “predominantly” decarbonized grid was seen by climate groups as a weakening of commitments.

In addition, ahead of the summit, Japan had been pressing to include support for gas at the meeting. But Germany has also received criticism supporting more gas investment.

“A month ago G7 ministers successfully pushed back against a Japan-led push for gas investments and fossil fuels. But Germany joining Japan in promoting gas investments means we now have a disastrous G7 Summit outcome,” said Laurie van der Burg, Co-Manager Global Public Finance, Oil Change International.

Germany defended its position. “We also need some new gas power station, but they should be built in a way that they can run on green hydrogen later on as well. So it is an investment in the clean future as well,” a German government official told Reuters following the G7 meeting.

In the U.S., climate groups castigated the Biden administration for breaching its 2021 pledge to end overseas financing of overseas coal and carbon-intensive projects, with some exceptions. The United States Export-Import bank recently offered $100 million in loans to an oil refinery in Indonesia.

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