G7 leaders are considering watering down a pledge to stop financing fossil fuel projects abroad, according to a draft text seen by AFP on Monday, as some countries struggle to replace Russian energy imports.
The Group of Seven rich nations — the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan — are still discussing the final wording of their communique at a high-level summit in the Bavarian Alps.
But environmental campaigners have grown increasingly alarmed that the war in Ukraine will prompt G7 countries to walk back their climate promises as they confront a drop in Russian gas supplies and soaring energy costs.
“We don’t want to see any roll back,” said Friederike Roder, vice-president of the non-profit group Global Citizen.
“The G7 need to walk the talk on their own climate commitments,” she said.
The draft communique seen by AFP still includes a pledge to stop financing new, unabated fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of 2022 to help reach the goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The term “unabated” refers to projects that do not employ techniques to offset some of the pollution caused by carbon dioxide emissions.
But up for debate at the summit is the potential addition of a sentence that says that in the “exceptional circumstances” created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, public investment in the gas sector could be “necessary” as a “temporary response”.
Germany and Italy, both heavily reliant on Russian energy imports, were pushing hardest to make the tweak, a source told AFP, while France and Britain were resisting.
The final text is expected to be unveiled when the three-day G7 summit ends on Tuesday.
Environmentalists said G7 summit host Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is looking at gas projects in Senegal, risked being seen as a hypocrite on climate protection.
Investing in fossil fuel in Senegal is clearly in Germany’s own interests, Roder said. “For Senegal it would be better to invest in renewables. Not big projects that will be outdated soon.”
Any weakening of commitments agreed at last year’s UN COP26 climate summit would be a setback in the fight against climate change, campaigners warned.
“This could really undermine the 1.5 degree limit,” said Christoph Bals from the NGO Germanwatch.