Mixed messages on coal phase-out from G7

Source : https://www.argusmedia.com/en/news/2224410-mixed-messages-on-coal-phaseout-from-g7?backToResults=true


The leaders of the G7 member nations failed to agree specific dates for a phase-out of coal from power generation at their annual summit this weekend but did agree to a largely decarbonised power system in the 2030s and to end public financing for overseas coal-fired plants by the end of this year.

The UK, which hosted the summit in Cornwall and will host the COP 26 summit in Glasgow later this year, has put coal phase-out high on the agenda of both groups and has sought specific commitments to a coal phase-out plan from leaders.

The statement from the G7 leaders says they "commit to achieve an overwhelmingly decarbonised power system in the 2030s" a

nd agree with "policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity", using language similar to that used at the meeting of G7 environmental ministers last month.

The leaders agree to a "transition to net zero, supported by relevant policies, and noting the clear roadmap provided by the International Energy Agency", the statement says. The IEA Net Zero pathway states that developed countries need to exit coal-fired generation in 2030.

An overwhelmingly decarbonised power system would also imply an end to unabated gas-fired generation but the leaders said nothing more specific on gas.

This is likely to be driven primarily by Japanese concerns, as Japan has the largest share of coal in its generation mix of the G7 countries. Japan also has expressed mixed feelings about restarting all of its nuclear plants and has been slow to add solar and wind capacity, compared with the other member countries. Germany also may have been hesitant to commit to a phase-out in the early 2030s, as it envisages keeping some coal generation on line until 2038.

The European members of the G7, and Canada, have already outlined their coal phase-out plans with the UK, with France and Italy ending coal-fired generation by 2025. In the US, coal generation has already fallen sharply and plants have closed without a specific government policy to phase it out, making it much easier for the administration of US president Joe Biden to introduce such a policy in the future.

The G7 leaders did agree on more specific policies to stop the public finance of overseas coal power projects by the end of this year, a policy that received some resistance from Japan. The policy covers export finance, trade promotion support, investment and official development assistance funding. The group also launched an industrial carbonisation agenda that will seek to accelerate innovation and technology for industries such as cement and steel.

The statement also says the group will "phase out new direct government support for international carbon-intensive fossil fuel energy as soon as possible, with limited exceptions", a commitment that could have implications for gas-fired generation projects as well, although no specific details were agreed.

But the G7 did announce their first-ever joint commitment to the 1.5°C climate goal. Member states "will align their long-term and short-term climate goals in a manner consistent with keeping the 1.5°C global warming threshold", it says.

By Eleanor Green

Related Regular News: