22 May 2023, 13:29
Julian Wettengel

German and Japanese governments under fire for 'problematic' G7 climate outcome

Clean Energy Wire

Researchers, NGOs, and media commentators have criticised the German and Japanese governments for what they say is a weak outcome on climate policy at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Japan. “Japan’s resistance to phasing out coal power generation and Germany’s insistence on more public investment in gas undercut the G7’s leadership at a time when it is desperately needed,” said Alden Meyer, senior associate at think tank E3G. In their final communiqué, the G7 said they aim to accelerate the phase out of unabated coal power (where climate-damaging emissions are not captured), but did not set an end date. They also said that publicly-supported investments in fossil gas can be appropriate given the aim of ending dependence on Russian energy supplies – something the German government had pushed for already at last year’s G7 summit in Bavaria.

“Unfortunately, chancellor [Olaf] Scholz had a decisive role in watering down the climate policy signals from the G7 summit,” said Lutz Weischer, Berlin office head of the NGO Germanwatch. The agreements on coal and fossil gas are “in contradiction to meeting the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris, which the [G7] states paradoxically reaffirmed in the same breath,” Weischer said.

The wording in the final communiqué leaves a lot of room for loopholes and waters down the text, wrote Verena Kern in an opinion piece for Klimareporter. She called the elements on fossil gas “particularly problematic” and says that, even with the restrictive language, they “leave the door wide open” for fossil investments. “Energy security, as the G7 summit shows, is still seen as more important than curbing climate change,” she wrote. “And natural gas is still seen as a bridge to climate neutrality. A risky assumption.”

In summer 2022, German chancellor Scholz had hosted leaders from the G7 at Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps for their last summit, which was dominated by Russia’s war against Ukraine and the energy crisis. The chancellor had pushed for a clause on public support for international fossil gas investments to be included in the final statement, despite an agreement to the contrary signed at the UN climate change conference COP26 several months earlier.

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