G7 leaders pledge to ‘decarbonise’ economies by end of century

Campaigners circumspect in reaction to G7’s ‘clear commitment’ on climate issues

A tent at the G7 protest camp in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday. Photograph: EPA/Tobias Hase

A tent at the G7 protest camp in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday. Photograph: EPA/Tobias Hase


G7 leaders have agreed to “decarbonise” their economies by the end of the century and to cut by 2050 global greenhouse gas emissions by the “upper end” of 40 to 70 per cent, compared with 2010 levels.

Ahead of year-end UN climate talks in Paris, the leaders of the seven leading industrial nations reaffirmed in Bavaria a 2009 commitment to a 2 degree limit on global warming compared with preindustrial levels.

They also voiced “strong determination” to adopt legal tools in Paris that are “ambitious, robust, inclusive and reflects evolving national circumstances”.

“We made a clear commitment here that we want binding regulations,” said German chancellor Angela Merkel, with an eye on the UN meeting. “We don’t have them right now, and that needs to be the objective in Paris.”

The leaders agreed to work with the World Bank to increase financing for green projects in developing nations, and to assist them in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.

French president François Hollande said he was optimistic that the “ambitious and realistic commitments” would add momentum to the Paris climate talks. “We do not have the right to fail,” he said.

Campaigners watching the G7 talks were circumspect in their reaction to the agreement, which came after the German hosts overcome resistance by Canada and Japan.

Days numbered

Samantha Smith

Oxfam’s G7 spokesman, Jorn Kalinski, agreed that the leaders had “indicated that fossil fuels are on their way out”.

“G7 leaders are starting to talk the right language, but they must now live up to their own rhetoric and kick their dirty coal habit,” he said.

But Oxfam led the criticism of what it called a “cop-out” by G7 leaders on the health and development agenda.

Médecins Sans Frontières said it was disappointed by “lip service” on global health challenges and warned that the world was an unprepared as ever to deal with another pandemic like the recent Ebola outbreak.

“Once again, entire communities and villages will be left to die until it risks spreading to the West, and only then will these leaders decide to take action,” said Dr Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières.