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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Leaders of the G7 agreed to a sweeping new agenda over the weekend. But while the communique they issued is lofty in goals, it lacks crucial details on climate.

Why it matters: The G7's paucity of specifics on climate finance and domestic coal consumption, in particular, calls into question the ability of the wealthiest nations to take sufficient action on global warming.

  • This comes as experts warn that time is running out to prevent some of the most damaging climate effects.
  • In addition, the G7 outcome boosts pressure on the UN climate summit in Glasgow this November, as negotiators could enter the meeting with tensions between rich and poor countries.

Details: The G7 communique is notable for weaving climate throughout its many goals. However:

  • While countries agreed to boost funding for climate finance abroad, they did not provide many specific figures or approach the scale of spending that they first raised in 2009 and affirmed in 2015, which was $100 billion annually starting in 2020.
  • This missing climate finance commitment portends trouble for the climate summit, known as COP26.
  • While countries committed to ending new government support for coal plants abroad without capture and storage by the end of this year, they did not provide an end date for their coal use domestically. This could reduce their leverage with China, the top coal consumer.

Yes, but: The U.S. does have a 100% clean power target by 2035.

Context: The closely watched G7 summit is the latest sign that having lofty ambitions on global warming and creating tangible, on-the-ground carbon-cutting steps are two different things.

  • In the U.S., for example, major climate legislation may not get through Congress as previously anticipated.
  • Global carbon emissions have already bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Last week, the International Energy Agency stated that oil demand will have already completely recovered from the pandemic by the end of next year, a departure from the organization's pathway for a net-zero emissions future.
  • Other new data shows China's oil demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels, a signal of what may take place elsewhere as coronavirus restrictions are loosened.

What they're saying: Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, said countries disappointingly "punted" on climate finance.

  • "The $100 billion has to be taken off the table, and a new commitment made for 2025 and later, because of its political symbolism, as well as the whole concept of promises made, promises kept from the developed world," she told Axios.
  • "We seem to be acting like we've got all this time in the world, and we don't."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 3, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The glass is barely half full on clean energy capital

Expand chart
Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

New data shows that combined global investment in renewable energy companies and projects just had its best first half of any year.

Driving the news: The first six months of 2021 saw the investment of $174 billion amid record amounts of public market financing, venture capital and private equity, per the research firm BloombergNEF.

Climate groups, unions push Congress for carbon capture funding in infrastructure bills

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A coalition of groups sent a letter to House and Senate leaders Tuesday morning calling for the infrastructure bills moving through Congress to bolster nascent carbon capture and storage ventures.

Why it matters: This may be the broadest coalition yet put together to advocate for carbon capture and storage policies (CCS).

2 wildfires ravage Northern California homes as thousands evacuate

Firefighters monitoring the scene as flames from the Dixie Fire jump across highway 89 near Greenville, California, on Tuesday. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Two massive California wildfires have triggered new mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of people and destroyed homes and businesses in the state's north overnight.

Details: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through the Greenville area of Plumas County Wednesday night, per AP. The rapidly spreading River Fire burned "multiple" homes as it tore through Placer and Nevada counties, KOVR notes. Mandatory evacuation orders were in effect for both fires.