The Richest Countries on Earth Just Agreed to Stop Your Great-Grandchildren From Using Fossil Fuels

The G7 nations will seek to cut emissions 40 to 70 percent by 2050.

Isopix/REX/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


This story originally appeared on Grist and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The global economy must be completely fossil fuel–free by the end of the century. That point of climate consensus came out of a meeting today between the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the European Union, which make up the G7.

In the interest of preventing the planet from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius, the nations said in a joint statement, “we emphasize that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century.” To that end, the nations agreed to work toward cutting emissions by between 40 and 70 percent by 2050.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced that the G7 countries would raise $100 billion by 2020 to help poorer nations adapt to climate change. Those funds, she said, would come from public and private sources. Financing to help the developing world confront climate change has long been a point of contention in climate negotiations, and past efforts to get rich countries to pony up have been a bit rocky.

Environmental groups praised the G7 announcement, which they had worried would be derailed by dissent from Japan and Canada. “The decisions made by the G7 today indicated an acknowledgement that there needs to be a phase-out of climate-killing coal and oil by 2050 at the latest,” said Greenpeace’s head of international climate politics, Martin Kaiser. “Merkel and Obama succeeded in not allowing Canada and Japan to continue blocking progress towards tackling climate change.”

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan backed away from nuclear energy, and has drawn criticism for favoring coal over renewables. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration has leaned heavily on Alberta’s tar sands as a potential economic boon for the country, and has been notoriously unfriendly to climate campaigners who disagree.

In a statement, the Sierra Club called today “the first time that the leaders of the world have made clear with one voice that we must get off fossil fuels completely.”

Though this announcement doesn’t require these countries to actually do anything specific, green groups see it as an encouraging indicator of momentum as we approach December’s UN climate summit in Paris, where 200 countries will commit to specific plans for how to green their economies. If, six months before diplomats sit down with pens in hand, the leaders of the world’s major economies are making announcements that involve words like “decarbonisation”—well, greens see that as a good thing.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest