G7 pledges to cut emissions by up to 70% before 2050

Countries intend to wean economies off carbon fuels but stop short of binding targets

G7 leaders attend concert and working dinner at end of the first of two days of talks at an Alpine summit. Video: Reuters


Group of Seven leaders agreed on Monday to wean their economies off carbon fuels and supported a global goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but they stopped short of agreeing their own immediate binding targets.

In a communique issued after their two-day summit in Bavaria, the G7 leaders said they backed reducing global greenhouse gas emissions at the upper end of a range of 40-70 per cent by 2050, using 2010 as a basis. The range was recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations’ climate-change panel.

They also backed a global target for limiting the rise in average global temperatures to two degrees compared with preindustrial levels.

“We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term, including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050, and invite all countries to join us in this endeavour,” the communique read.

G7 host Angela Merkel, once dubbed the “climate chancellor”, hoped to revitalise her green credentials by getting the G7 nations to agree specific emissions goals ahead of a larger year-end UN climate meeting in Paris.

The leaders stopped short of agreeing any such immediate binding targets for their economies. Green lobby groups nonetheless welcomed the direction of their agreements.

“They’ve given important political signals, but they could have done more, particularly by making concrete national commitments for immediate action,” said Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF Global Climate and Energy Initiative. “We had hoped for more commitments on what they would do right now.”

The Europeans had pressed their G7 partners to sign up to legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Firm stance

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and European Union took a firm stance on Russia and its involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Ms Merkel said the G7 countries were ready, if necessary, to strengthen sanctions against Russia.

The leaders want Russia and Ukraine to comply with a February 12th ceasefire agreed in the Belarus capital Minsk that largely halted fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.

“We are also ready, should the situation escalate, which we don’t want, to strengthen sanctions if the situation makes that necessary, but we believe we should do everything to move forward the political process of Minsk,” Ms Merkel said.

In the communique, the leaders said they expected Russia to stop its support for separatist forces in Ukraine and implement the Minsk agreements in full. The sanctions, they said, “can be rolled back when Russia meets these commitments”.

Greek debt crisis

The leaders discussed the Greek debt crisis as a group and also in bilateral meetings during the summit.

Ms Merkel said there was not much time left for a debt deal to keep Greece in the euro zone and that Europe was prepared to show solidarity if Athens implemented economic reforms.

“We want Greece to remain part of the euro zone but we take the clear position that solidarity with Greece requires that Greece makes proposals and implements reforms,” she said.

“There isn’t much time left. Everyone is working intensively. The day after tomorrow there will be opportunity to discuss it with the Greek prime minister. Every day counts now,” she said.

Greece’s leftist government last week rejected proposals for a cash-for-reforms deal put forward by European lenders and the International Monetary Fund, but has yet to put forward its own alternative to unlock aid funds that expire at the end of June.