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G7 ministers set big new targets for solar and wind capacity

G7 ministers held two days of meetings on climate, energy and environmental policy in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo. PHOTO/IRENA

Key Highlights

  • G7 members have agreed to speed up renewable energy development and move toward a quicker phase-out of fossil fuels.
  • They will collectively increase offshore wind capacity by 150 gigawatts by 2030 and boost solar capacity to more than 1 terawatt.
  • They will also prioritize accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired power generation that does not use carbon capture technology.

By SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

newshub@eyewitness.africa

The Group of Seven rich nations have set big new collective targets for solar power and offshore wind capacity, agreeing to speed up renewable energy development and move toward a quicker phase-out of fossil fuels.

But they stopped short of endorsing a 2030 deadline for phasing out coal that Canada and other members had pushed for, and left the door open for continued investment in gas, saying that sector could help address potential energy shortfalls.

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 told a news conference.

The G7 agreed on a collective increase of 150 GW of offshore wind and 1 TW of Solar PV by 2030, in line with IRENA’s 1.5-degree pathway.

“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.

Reuters reported that the G7 ministers held two days of meetings on climate, energy and environmental policy in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo.

Renewable fuel sources and energy security have taken on a new urgency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

G7 leaders expressed concern over global renewable power deployment rates, citing the latest findings from IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook Preview 2023. The report warns that there is a need for a fundamental course correction in the energy transition to keep the 1.5°C target within reach.

And IRENA says targets in the G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers’ Communiqué reflect IRENA estimates for the group, calling for 150 GW offshore wind and 1 TW Solar PV by 2030.

Through the communiqué, IRENA was also requested to prepare analysis on the innovation and sustainability of floating offshore wind to infom the G7’s work. IRENA is also working with the G7 Presidency to produce a report on sustainable production and trade of hydrogen in remote and developing regions.

G7 members plan big rises in wind and solar energy capacity by 2030. PHOTO/PEXELS/KINDEL MEDIA

“The G7’s commitment to fast-tracking renewable energy deployment is a welcome step that sends a strong signal to the international community that accelerating the energy transition is a must,” said IRENA Director- General Francesco La Camera. “IRENA will continue its collaboration with the G7 countries in implementing their goals and targets.”

The plan, outlined by the Communiqué, involves accelerating the deployment of all renewable energy sources, including solar, onshore/offshore wind, hydropower, geothermal, sustainable biomass, biomethane, and tidal power.

G7 countries will also invest in the development and deployment of next-generation technologies and establish secure, sustainable, and resilient supply chains.

Additionally, the G7 Communiqué requested IRENA, in partnership with the Equality Advisory Council, Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), to work with Members on tracking their progress on gender balance.

The G7 is composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Representatives of the European Union also attend meetings.

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

In their communique, the members pledged to collectively increase offshore wind capacity by 150 gigawatts by 2030 and solar capacity to more than 1 terawatt.

They agreed to accelerate “the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels” – the burning of fossil fuels without using technology to capture the resulting C02 emissions – to achieve net zero in energy systems by 2050 at the latest.

On coal, the countries agreed to prioritise “concrete and timely steps” towards accelerating the phase-out of “domestic, unabated coal power generation”, as a part of a commitment last year to achieve at least a “predominantly” decarbonised power sector by 2035.

Canada was clear that unabated coal-fired power should be phased out by 2030, and Ottawa, Britain and some other G7 members committed to that date, Canada’s Wilkinson told Reuters.

“Others are still trying to figure out how they could get there within their relevant timeframe,” Wilkinson said.

“We are trying to find ways (for) some who are more coal-dependent than others to find technical pathways how to do that,” he said.

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