May 21, 2021 - Energy & Environment

G7 agrees to stop international funding for coal

John Kerry

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pose prior to Friday's pledge in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Odd Andersen via Getty Images

G7 countries on Friday agreed to stop all new financing of international coal projects by the end of the year in an effort to meet global climate change targets.

Why it matters: "Coal mining has come under pressure this week after the International Energy Agency said that no new coal mines should be needed if the world is to cut emissions to net zero by 2050," the Financial Times noted.

  • "The G7 countries [on Friday] also pledged to make 'accelerated efforts' to limit global warming to 1.5C [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit] relative to pre-industrial times — a major shift from previous statements that focused on limiting warming to 2C, a slightly easier target," FT added.
  • The G7 includes the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom.

What they're saying: "Recognising that coal power generation is the single biggest cause of global temperature increases, we commit now to rapidly scale-up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity," the G7 environment and climate ministers, including U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry, said Friday.

  • "Consistent with this overall approach and recognising that continued global investment in unabated coal power generation is incompatible with keeping 1.5°C within reach, we stress that international investments in unabated coal must stop now," the communique added.
  • "[W]e will phase out new direct government support for carbon intensive international fossil fuel energy, except in limited circumstances at the discretion of each country, in a manner that is consistent with an ambitious, clearly defined pathway towards climate neutrality in order to keep 1.5°C within reach..."

The UK's Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 climate summit tweeted: "Today the @G7 has taken a major step towards a net zero economy by agreeing to phase out international fossil fuel finance, starting with coal."

  • "This is a clear signal to the world that coal is on the way out," he added.

The big picture: Despite concern that Japan, a major consumer of coal, oil and natural gas, may not support a pledge to end international coal financing, Kerry on Friday noted the "work that we did with Japan, and Japan's important steps and important effort to find unity on the road ahead," per FT.

  • With Japan's agreement, countries that continue to back coal, including China, "are increasingly isolated and could face more pressure to stop," Reuters writes.
  • The G7 climate ministers "failed to reach any concrete agreement on climate-related aid to developing countries, which is shaping up to be one of the thorniest issues at the UN COP26 summit in November," FT noted.

What to watch: G7 leaders are set to meet in the UK next month.

Go deeper: U.S. and China agree to take joint climate action

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