The world’s seven largest advanced economies agreed on Friday to stop international financing of coal projects that emit carbon by the end of this year, and phase out such support for all fossil fuels, to meet globally agreed climate change targets.
Stopping fossil fuel funding is seen as a major step the world can make to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, which scientists say would avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change.
Getting Japan on board to end international financing of coal projects in such a short timeframe means those countries, such as China, which still back coal are increasingly isolated and could face more pressure to stop.
In a communique, which Reuters saw and reported on earlier, the Group of Seven nations – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – plus the European Union said “international investments in unabated coal must stop now”.
“(We) commit to take concrete steps 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.”
Coal is considered unabated when it is burned for power or heat without using technology to capture the resulting emissions, a system not yet widely used in power generation.
Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 climate summit, has made halting international coal financing a “personal priority” to help end of the world’s reliance on the fossil fuel, calling for the UN summit in November to be the one “that consigns coal to history”.
He called on China to set out its “near-term policies that will then help to deliver the longer-term targets and the whole of the Chinese system needs to deliver on what President Xi Jinping has set out as his policy goals”.