G7 ministers set ambitious renewable energy targets

After a two-day meeting in Sapporo, Japan, G7 ministers shared targets for offshore wind capacity and solar power to accelerate the expansion of renewables

On Sunday, the G7 countries – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada – established ambitious targets for offshore wind capacity and solar power. 

The nations agreed to accelerate renewable energy development and work towards a faster reduction of fossil fuels.

Accelerating the expansion of renewables

During the two-day meetings in Sapporo, Japan, renewable fuel sources and energy security were addressed with a new urgency, following the Russia-Ukraine war.

According to the official communiqué, G7 ministers vowed to augment the offshore wind capacity by 150 gigawatts and elevate the solar power capacity to over 1 terawatt by 2030.

The ministers acknowledged that the gas sector could assist in mitigating potential energy deficits.

“In the midst of an unprecedented energy crisis, it's important to come up with measures to tackle climate change and promote energy security at the same time," Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said in a news conference.

“While acknowledging that there are diverse pathways to achieve carbon neutral, we agreed on the importance of aiming for a common goal toward 2050,” he said.

Phasing out fossil fuels

Ministers did not fully support Canada's push for a deadline of 2030 to phase out coal and allowed for the possibility of ongoing investments in gas. 

“Initially, people thought that climate action and action on energy security potentially were in conflict,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources. “But discussions which we had and which are reflected in the communique are that they actually work together.”

Ministers also agreed to speed up the process of ending the use of fossil fuels without carbon capture technology, also known as “unabated fossil fuels”, in order to achieve a carbon-neutral energy system by 2050 at the latest. 

The countries also agreed to prioritise taking “specific and timely actions” towards phasing out "domestic, unabated coal power generation," as part of their commitment to having a power sector that is at least mostly decarbonised by 2035.

Making concrete commitments

A target date of 2040 has been set for reducing additional plastic pollution to zero, bringing the target forward by a decade.

“The solar and wind commitments are huge statements to the importance that they will rely on the energy superpowers of solar and wind in order to phase out fossil fuels,” said Dave Jones, Head of Data Insights at Ember.

“Hopefully this will provide a challenge to Japan, for which offshore wind is the missing part of the jigsaw that could see its power sector decarbonise much quicker than it thought possible.”

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