Climate change was high in the agenda of the G7 Summit that concluded in Germany yesterday. After years of failing to agree on a binding global action plan to limit the impact of climate change, the seven most industrialized countries of the world expressed their strong determination to reach a deal at the COP 21 of the UNFCCC in Paris in December 2015 and emphasized the need for “deep cuts in global greenhouse emissions” and “a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century.”
The G7 Declaration reaffirms a commitment to limit the increase of global average temperatures below 2 ºC, as agreed in the Copenhagen Accord, and supports the principle that all UNFCCC parties should share the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 70% by 2050, compared to 2010 levels. The G7 participants agreed that to achieve these objectives the UNFCCC COP 21 should result in a binding instrument that applies to all UNFCCC parties, while reflecting evolving national circumstances.
The G7 participants also expressed their commitment to achieve a low-carbon global economy by developing and deploying innovative technologies, transforming the different energy sectors by 2050, eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and continuing efforts to phase down hydro fluorocarbons. The participants also committed to apply effective policies and actions to incentivize investments towards low-carbon growth opportunities, including carbon marketed-based and regulatory instruments.
Importantly, the G7 Declaration also expresses a strong commitment to mobilize jointly USD 100 billion a year by 2020 to finance meaningful climate change mitigation actions. The Declaration recognizes the potential of multilateral development banks and of private sector capital to achieve this financial goals, unlock the required investments in low-carbon technologies, and adapt to climate change. In particular, the G7 participants pledged to increase the number of people in vulnerable developing countries that have access to insurance coverage against the impact of climate change, and to accelerate access to renewable energy in Africa and developing countries in other regions.
To date, all of the G7 participants but Japan have submitted their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to the UNFCCC COP 21. However, while Germany reaffirmed its ambition of having no emissions from fossil fuels by 2100, it is still unclear whether the U.S. and EU will be capable of adopting the painful measures that are necessary to achieve “a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century.” It remains to be seen whether President Obama and the next U.S. President will be able to convince a reluctant U.S. Congress, and whether the current European Commission can ensure that EU Member States adopt the necessary measures, to force the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and create the necessary incentives for renewable energies, energy efficiency and other clean technologies.
Pedro Mendez de Vigo is a Covington summer legal trainee from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.