The G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers’ Communiqué makes clear commitment to ending plastic pollution by 2040 and phasing out fossil fuels
The meeting of the G7 environment, climate and energy ministers concluded today with a communiqué that sends a strong message in the fight against biodiversity loss, plastic pollution and the climate crisis. The G7 is charting a course for urgently needed progress in the United Nations, in the G20 and at the next UN Climate Change Conference, COP28. The G7 agreed to resolutely press forward with the Global Biodiversity Framework concluded in Montreal and to end additional plastic pollution by 2040. The countries set the very first collective targets on increasing renewable energy to push development in the sector. They also made a commitment for the first time ever to phase out all fossil fuels. The two-day meeting of G7 environment, climate and energy ministers in Sapporo, Japan sends a strong signal of unity.
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke commented: "The three existential crises of our time – climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – grow worse every day that we do not act. The G7 countries have a special responsibility to resolve these crises because we account for the vast majority of global resource consumption and the resulting damage to the climate and environment. In Sapporo, we accepted our responsibility, which is also our duty. We underline the urgent need for action to limit global heating to 1.5 degree Celsius (°C) and set firm targets for expanding renewable energy. In December, the international community set up a safety net for nature in Montreal. The G7 is building on this momentum and vigorously pursuing implementation. Cheap plastic in disposable products has become more and more prevalent in industrialised countries. This is why it is especially important for the G7 to take action to swiftly end plastic pollution. This is positive for ongoing negotiations under the United Nations for a strong global agreement to combat plastic litter, which I fully support."
Patrick Graichen, State Secretary at the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry remarked: "The G7 countries have drawn the right conclusions from the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s terrible war of aggression against Ukraine and accelerated the energy transition by rapidly expanding renewable energy and making progress on energy efficiency, energy savings and decarbonising industry. In addition, the G7 unanimously agrees that we must phase out fossil fuels. This is the right way forward for climate action and the security of our energy supply. However, to achieve our goals, we must speed up our efforts considerably and mobilise the necessary investments. At our meeting yesterday, the G7 found clear language to send the right message – to our partner countries outside of the G7 ahead of COP28 and to decision-makers in industry and society."
Against the background of intense pollution, particularly of the oceans, the ministers’ decision to reduce additional plastic pollution to zero by 2040 is a ground-breaking step forward – and a significant acceleration. In 2019, the G20 agreed an end date of 2050, then also under Japanese Presidency. Now the G7 are going a step further, lending momentum to the UN negotiations on a global agreement to reduce plastic pollution. The negotiators will meet for the second time in May in Paris to make progress in the negotiations and define the agreement's key provisions in more detail. The aim is to conclude negotiations of the legally binding agreement on plastic waste by the end of 2024.
In Sapporo, the G7 underscored their commitment to move forward together on climate action and accelerate the energy transition – away from fossil energy sources and towards renewables. The G7 set first-ever collective targets for the expansion of renewable energy: 150 GW of offshore wind capacity and an increase of more than 1,000 GW (=1 TW) in photovoltaics by 2030. The G7 also agreed for the first time to phase out all fossil fuels. The countries underscored their commitment to phasing out coal and specified that no new coal-fired power plants can be built. This year, the G7 also gave more attention to greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide such as sulphur hexafluoride, which is more than 20,000 times more damaging to the climate than CO2. It was agreed to limit use and, where possible, to entirely replace sulphur hexafluoride with climate-friendly alternatives in new plants.
To further accelerate the energy transition, the G7 emphasised the need to decarbonise the supply chains of critical raw materials, make them more sustainable and increase investments in the manufacture and installation of clean energy technologies like electrolysers, heat pumps and batteries. Despite this positive trend, a considerable share of private finance continues to flow into the fossil fuel sector, which the G7 specifically identified as a problem. The G7 countries reaffirmed their commitment to phasing out financing for fossil fuels and will update their approach to the issue by the end of 2023. The G7 also took bold decisions on biodiversity conservation. Fuelled by the momentum of Montreal, the G7 countries are committed to the full and swift implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework. They support the target of placing 30 percent of land and sea under protection by 2030. Further, they call for the rapid entry into force of the new High Seas Treaty (BBNJ), which the UN member states adopted in New York in March.
The G7 meeting of the environment, climate and energy ministers on 15 and 16 April 2023 in Sapporo, Japan helped pave the way for the G7 summit of heads of state and government in Hiroshima in May. In light of Russia's ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, the ministers opened their communiqué with a clear declaration of the G7 countries’ solidarity with Ukraine.