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G7 Countries Agree to End Coal Use by 2035, But With Some Leeway

The Group of Seven nations’ energy and climate ministers agreed on Tuesday to end the use of “unabated” coal by 2035, but also left some wiggle room for member countries to postpone that deadline in particular contexts.

In a joint statement after the G7 meeting between energy, climate and environment ministers in the Italian city of Turin, the group announced it had committed to “phase out existing unabated coal power generation in our energy systems during the first half of 2030s.”

The G7 countries are Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the US and UK.

Climate experts said the agreement marks a significant step towards curbing fossil fuel use, but some environmental activists stressed that 2035 could be “too late.”

The G7 two-day meeting in Turin was the first big political session since the UN's COP28 climate summit last December, which focused on leading a transition away from coal, oil and gas.

France's Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Bechu said after the meeting that the commitment "shows the determination to implement the transition away from fossil fuels decided at COP28."

The G7 statement, however, left some room for flexibility, saying countries could follow "a timeline consistent with keeping a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature rise within reach, in line with countries' net zero pathways."

Negotiations were expected to be complex, with Japan -- which still relies heavily on coal -- reluctant to agree on a strict commitment.

Climate experts noted that many of the G7 countries have already publicly committed to phase out dates ahead of 2030, and only have a small amount of coal capacity anyway.

The wiggle room appears to allow those countries to keep using coal past 2035, as long as their overall national emissions won’t contribute to global warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Questioned by journalists on the caveats in the G7 agreement, Italian Environment and Energy Minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin defended the deal, saying it shows “G7 countries undertake to phase out the use of coal, without jeopardizing the various countries’ economic and social equilibrium.”

Fossil fuels are considered the primary driver of the climate crisis, and coal is typically the most polluting of all fossil fuels.

"The task at hand is to phase-out coal by 2030, and gas power by 2035, in order to achieve the G7’s goal of fully or predominately decarbonizing its power sectors by 2035,” said Claire Smith, senior international campaigner at Beyond Fossil Fuels.

“Almost every country in the world agreed last year to transition away from fossil fuels at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, but failing to put an end date on coal was seen as a shortcoming of those negotiations,” she added.

The G7 nations also committed on Tuesday to assist the most vulnerable countries to establish “comprehensive investment plans, taking into account needs and priorities of developing countries.”

According to the G7 final readout, these efforts will include: adopting “fit-for-purpose instruments as well as technologies at project and programme level for leveraging private finance and crowd in private capital”; improving enabling environments to better manage physical climate risks in infrastructure and investment decisions; promoting “transformative investment pipelines” for resilience; enhancing access to all available multilateral, bilateral and private sources of finance by reducing transaction costs, building capacity and removing barriers. (Anadolu Agency)

Source: News Express

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