Ministers from the world’s largest developed economies meeting in Japan last week committed to “accelerating the phase-out of domestic unabated coal power generation in a manner consistent with keeping a limit of 1.5°C temperature rise within reach.” They also recognized that all countries need to immediately stop construction of any new coal power plants in a bid to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, strengthen energy security and ensure long-term prosperity and stability.
In a statement released on 16 April, G7 Climate and Environment Ministers sent a clear signal to the rest of the world that emissions from fossil fuels — coal power emissions in particular — are on the way out. To achieve net zero in energy systems by 2050, they reaffirmed a 2022 commitment to “fully” or “predominantly” decarbonize their power sectors no later than 2035 and accelerate the phase-out of all unabated fossil fuels in-line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.
The rapid phase-out of emissions from coal power, which so far have been the single largest source of global temperature increase, is the first and most critical step towards achieving these goals. G7 ministers’ agreed to phase out coal emissions in line with a 1.5C pathway. The International Energy Agency Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector suggests that this requires OECD countries to phase out by 2030 and non-OECD countries to phase out by 2040.
To facilitate this transition, G7 ministers also agreed to dramatically scale up renewable energy – collectively increasing offshore wind capacity of 150 GW by 2030 and solar PV to more than 1TW by 2030.
The March 2023 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change demonstrates that the window for action to prevent catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing. Countries, local leaders and the private sector must seize every opportunity this year to accelerate the phase out of emissions from coal. These commitments by G7 ministers represent a first step and will hopefully build the momentum for an accelerated coal phase-out through upcoming G20 and COP28 discussions.
This accelerated phase-out is the best response to the energy security crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which highlighted the global vulnerabilities created by a reliance on fossil fuels. The G7 commitment reflects a shared belief that climate security and energy security are two sides of the same coin.
Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and PPCA co-chair, Steven Guilbeault, said:
“For Canada, phasing out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 has never been so urgent. Canada welcomes G7’s commitment to accelerate coal phase out in a manner consistent with 1.5 C scenario. Science is clear, countries, in particular G-7, must do more and on a faster timeline to address climate change and keep the Paris Agreement temperature goal in reach. Canada is proud co-chair of the Powering Past Coal Alliance.”
The Alliance stands ready to support countries in identifying and implementing solutions to accelerate their phase out efforts. It is already working with subnational governments in South Korea, Japan, Australia and the Philippines, the government of Singapore and several partners to help accelerate the coal-to-clean transition in Asia. As an example of a recent concrete partnership offer, the UK government has proposed to work together with Japan to unlock its off-shore wind potential. The IEA estimates that offshore wind power alone could meet nine times Japan’s current electricity needs.