The G7 Want to Save the World from Climate Change. But Are They Willing to Pay for It?
LONDON — For the first time in nearly two years, the leaders of seven of the world’s wealthiest democracies will meet to try to tackle some of the biggest global problems, including the post-pandemic recovery, climate change, and the challenge of China. The three-day meeting of the Group of Seven, hosted by the United Kingdom, will open on Friday in Carbis Bay, a seaside resort in Cornwall in southwest England.
Climate change has finally cemented its place at the top of the agenda for international diplomacy in recent months, and with President Joe Biden in office, all members of the group of seven—the U.S., Italy, France, Germany, the U.K., Canada, and Japan—are aligned on the urgency of the current moment for the first time. In a pre-summit gesture in May, the group agreed to end their financing of overseas coal projects—a long-awaited goal that will sharply reduce prospects for the dirtiest fossil fuel.
Crucially, these wealthy countries are not only uniting on similar narratives on climate but also beginning to see the geopolitical advantage of strong climate action. For the Biden administration, which is trying to pass a raft of pro-climate measures at home, international climate action is a chance to heal the tattered U.S.-E.U. relationship. More broadly, it offers Biden the chance to, as he writes this week in the Washington Post, prove the capacity of “democratic alliances and institutions that shaped so much of the last century against modern-day threats and adversaries.”
G7 economies could lose 8.5% per year by 2050 without more ambitious climate action.
The economies of the G7 nations could see an average loss of 8.5 percent annually by 2050 ―equivalent to $4.8 trillion― if leaders do not take more ambitious action to tackle climate change, according to Oxfam’s analysis of research by the Swiss Re Institute. Oxfam is calling on G7 leaders, who are meeting in the UK later this week, to cut carbon emissions more quickly and steeply.
What happens after the Summit?
Once the summit ends, the host nation – in this case the UK – will publish an official “communique” document, outlining what has been agreed by world leaders. The Prime Minister is also expected to hold a news conference on the final day (Sunday 13 June). Following that, the UK will continue to encourage other nations to raise climate ambitions in the build-up to COP26. Currently, the world is massively off-track to realizing the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. While the UN received 48 updated national emission reduction goals during 2020, it has concluded that these will only put the world on course to produce 1% fewer greenhouse gases in 2030 than it did in 2010.
In comparison, the reduction will need to be 25% to meet the Paris Agreement’s 2C trajectory and 45% to achieve alignment with 1.5C. The UK will continue to use the presidency roles of both the G7 and COP26 to get other nations to submit updated climate plans, with decarbonization and climate finance set to be key themes in the build-up to the COP26 summit in November.
Events such as London Climate Action Week, the UN General Assembly, and the pre-COP event all take place following the G7 Summit and prior to COP26. The UK will be keen to use these platforms to get nations and businesses to make fresh commitments to climate action. Additionally, the Government is expected to release a host of policy frameworks prior to COP26, including those related to hydrogen, the built environment, and a roadmap to net-zero.