Alongside discussions on vaccine equality, the G7 summit raised the potential of new environment goals – but the countries largely stuck to established climate change policies, confirming they would continue
The official output for the G7 meetings suggested that all countries would do everything they could to “limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.”
The trajectory of the planet’s warming is so drastic that keeping to 1.5 degrees will be a significant challenge, requiring imminent policy implementation.
Further climate change policies include net zero carbon emissions by 2050, halving collective emissions by 2030, increasing and improving climate finance to 2025 and finally conserving or protecting atleast 30% of land and oceans by 2030.
Finland has already set internal targets to reach by 2035, but proposes the circular economy as a key part of reaching them – with measurable policy steps to that point.
Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in Finland, writes: “Finland has, for example, banned the use of coal by 2029, introduced an energy tax reform, prepared a roadmap and actions to halve the transport emissions by 2030, and committed to using half of our EU recovery funds for climate actions.”
This level of clarity was missing from the final proposals rising from Cornwall this weekend.
Scientists point out ‘overexploitation’ as reason for deterioration
Currently, roughly 60% of the South Asian population perform agricultural work and don’t have regular access to air conditioning. Moetasim Ashfaq, a computational climate scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, commented: “Even at 1.5 degrees, South Asia will have serious consequences in terms of heat stress. That’s why there is a need to radically alter the current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.”
In October 2020, The State of Nature report found that EU found that biodiversity in the EU is declining.
The authors say that “sea use, overexploitation and unsustainble management practices” are key reasons for why Europe faces a significant deterioration – even though Member States executed policies and put in “significant effort” to change things. At that point, a 30% conservation and protection goal for 2030 was already in existence. At the G7 meeting, this policy was re-established as a key climate goal.
‘Economic interest usually wins over ecological interest’
Professor Dr Tineke Lambooy, reflecting on how the environment could be meaningfully protected, proposes that nature is given legal personhood. They said: “There are many international treaties and national laws aimed at protecting nature areas and vulnerable species. However, the current situation reveals that those – although they are really important in terms of norm setting – have not been effective enough. The fact is, economic interest usually wins over ecological interest. Even in areas that have been labelled national parks or UNESCO World Heritage Area.”
Finally, the G7 recommitted to ‘a new deal with Africa’, which would involve increasing International Monetary Fund (IMF) support to a global aim of $100 billion. This will involve a lot of negotiation and discussion with the IMF, but also a recalibration of how sustainable development really functions in reality.