The world’s richest nations have urged businesses and investors to join the Race to Zero, the largest ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.
After last week’s virtual meeting of G7 environment and energy ministers, a communique was issued that reaffirms the major economies’ commitments to limiting global warming to 1.5°C and putting climate, biodiversity and the environment at the heart of their COVID-19 recovery strategies and investments.
Within the 22-page document, ministers “urge businesses and investors to join the Race to Zero, align their portfolios with the goals of the Paris Agreement and set science-based net zero targets of 2050 at the latest.”
“There is a global imperative to pursue efforts to limit the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that the avoided climate impacts are greater at 1.5°C than 2°C, as stated in the IPCC’s 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C,” it says.
A major part of this, ministers agreed, entails ending financial support for coal development overseas. “International investments in unabated coal must stop now,” it states, adding that concrete steps must be taken “towards an absolute end to new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021, including through Official Development Assistance, export finance, investment, and financial and trade promotion support.”
The commitment comes on the back of a major new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) which calls for all new developments of fossil fuels to end this year to give the world a good chance of keeping within the 1.5°C limit. The study argues that if the world wants to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, then there should be no new coal, oil or gas development from now on.
A recent increase in the use of coal, after last year’s global lockdowns, is largely responsible for what is forecast by the global energy watchdog to be the second biggest rise in emissions on record this year.
US climate envoy John Kerry said the G7’s decision to affirm a 1.5°C temperature limit was a major step forward, marking the first time that these countries had made such a commitment. The previous G7 agreement was 2°C aligned.
Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the UN, told the meeting: “We are running out of time to bend the emissions curve and cut emissions by 45% globally by 2030 and that’s from 2010 levels. This means all main emitters must deliver enhanced NDCs this year with concrete and credible targets that we can follow through to 2030. Important investments in the targets we set for 2030 will determine the outcome of credibility of the 2050 targets. And it means no new coal starting now, phasing out coal in OECD countries by 2030, and in the rest of the world by 2040.”
Race to Resilience
The communique also urges non-state actors to “join the [UN-backed] Race to Resilience campaign to strengthen the resilience of 4 billion people in vulnerable communities by 2030, and to participate in the adaptation activities undertaken within the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.”
The communique reaffirms the G7’s commitments to conserving or protecting at least 30% of global land and at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030 to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. This “will help set the world on a nature positive and climate-resilient pathway,” it states.
The paper recognizes the critical role the ocean and seas play for biodiversity and in regulating the Earth’s climate, acknowledging it absorbs “over 90% of all excess heat in the Earth’s system and between 20-30% of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions since the 1980s, providing a home to up to 80% of all life on Earth.”
“A healthy ocean is central to the livelihoods of more than three billion people. We therefore commit to increase efforts at international, regional and national level, to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, thus increasing its resilience,” it states.
Part of this strategy will involve strengthening the conservation, protection and restoration of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, salt marshes, polar regions and other ecosystems, agreed ministers. The communique also recognizes the value of blue carbon ecosystems and the importance of sustainable resilience for coastal communities and marine ecosystems.
The decisions made at this meeting are an important stepping-stone on the road to COP26 and provide clear signals to both states and non state actors alike that the momentum to a zero carbon world is well underway and within reach.
The UK has invited Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa as guest countries to this year’s G7 which is taking place in Carbis Bay, Cornwall from June 11-13.
Non state actors signed up to the Race to Zero now cover nearly 25% global CO2 emissions and over 50% GDP.
Source: Race to Zero/UNFCCC (originally published on 24th May 2021)