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Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images

G7 environment ministers have pledged to move toward the "absolute end" to financing international development of coal-fired power plants by the end of this year.

Why it matters: Their joint communique Friday is a stark statement about how they view the future of the world's most carbon-intensive fuel.

The big picture: Here are a few takeaways from the coal pledge...

  • It's most relevant to Japan, which per the climate think tank E3G and other advocates is the world's second-largest international funder of coal plants.
  • "Japan should start by funding clean energy projects in Bangladesh and Indonesia instead of the two coal power projects currently under consideration," said E3G's Chris Littlecott in emailed comments to reporters.
  • It could boost pressure on China, which is the top global financier of coal-fired facilities.
  • "This would really isolate China as the global lender of last resort for coal, which is not exactly an envious place to be in the run up to the next COP in Glasgow," said Justin Guay of the Sunrise Project, referring to the big United Nations climate summit in November.
  • The statement keeps the door open to carbon capture tech. It applies to "unabated" coal plants, that is, plants not equipped with CO2 capture, which has seen very little commercial deployment in the power sector thus far.
Expand chart
Data: IEA; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The chart above comes from last week's International Energy Agency report that lays out a "narrow but still achievable" path to reaching net-zero global emissions by 2050.

What's next: "The strongly worded statement sets the stage for more climate pledges when G7 country leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden, meet in Cornwall next month," the Financial Times reports.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schumer's high-stakes climate play

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's just over two months until a pivotal United Nations climate summit, and if Capitol Hill's importance to the equation wasn't already clear, it sure is now.

Catch up fast: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released an analysis showing the Democrats-only reconciliation plan — and to a much lesser degree the bipartisan infrastructure deal — would essentially put the U.S. on track to meet President Biden's pledge under the Paris Agreement.

Updated 40 mins ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Microsoft's metaverse maneuvering

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Microsoft is pitching investors and regulators that its $68 billion Activision Blizzard deal is all about the metaverse, that nebulous buzzword taking the tech world by storm.

What they're saying: By my colleague Stephen Totilo's count, Nadella used the word "metaverse" at least five times in his conference call discussing the deal. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick mentioned the metaverse four times, while Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer used the term twice.