Over 190 countries, including the G7, have submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) outlining commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2030 as part of the Paris agreement. The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States, which account for 40% of the world’s economy and 25% of the global GHG today, though both numbers were significantly higher before the rise of China. During the June 2021 G7 summit in Cornwall, leaders reaffirmed their countries’ commitments to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and halving their collective emissions by 2030. They were, however, vague about how they would fund the $100bn pledge to developing countries, who are hardest hit by both climate change and a need to find alternative pathways to industralisation. The vagueness about the G7 climate change commitment is not limited to funding others but how they will achieve their lofty goals. Reading through the different NDCs, the only country that gives some comfort is Canada.
Canada’s sincere pledge to fight climate change
Canada is the only G7 country with a detailed proposal for how they will go about reducing GHGs by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada already generates 82% of electricity from green sources such as hydro, wind, solar and nuclear. They plan to support decarbonisation in the industrials sector, which contributes 37% of emissions, by creating a $8bn Net Zero Accelerator Fund. They will also set up a $1.5bn Clean Fuels Fund to grow the clean fuels market in Canada. Other measures include creating a $2.6bn Canada Greener Homes Grant initiative that will give grants of up to $5,000 and $4.4bn to help businesses with retrofits.
By 2035, all new light-duty vehicles will need to be zero-emissions and the government has increased funding for the zero-emissions vehicles program by $287m, over and above the $300m previously pledged. They will also invest $150m to build charging points and refuelling sites across Canada.
European Union NDC
The European Union has pledged to reduce GHGs by 55% compared to 1990 levels. How, when, where are important details that are missing eight years before the key milestone in 2030.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, who was elected earlier this month, is now set to attend COP26 after the lower house elections in Japan on 31 October 2021 – unless his party loses. Japan has pledged to reduce GHGs by 46% in 2030 from its 2013 fiscal levels. While Japan has set hard targets across different sectors, there are no details of how this reduction will be achieved.
United Kingdom NDC
The UK has pledged to reduce GHGs by 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Other GHGs including hydrofluorocarbons use a base year of 1995. The sectors targeted include energy, industrials, agriculture, land use and waste. Just like the EU, the detail is missing. The only concrete pledge is £12bn to create 250,000 highly skilled green jobs. What exactly are ‘green jobs’?
United States NDC
The US NDC was hastily drafted and submitted in April 2021, three months after newly installed President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order on 27 January 2021 to re-join the Paris Agreement, reversing former President Donald Trump’s decision to exit in June 2017. The US has pledged to reduce GHGs by 50-52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This would bring emissions to levels not seen since the 1940s, a target that seems unrealistic for a country so dependent on fossil fuels.
The only concrete targets provided include generating 100% of electricity from carbon-free sources by 2035 as the power sector accounted for 25% of the total GHG in 2019. The US will provide incentives to cut emissions in various sectors such as: transportation, which uses fossil fuels to meet 90% of its energy demands; building and construction, which consumes energy for heating, cooling, and cooking; industrials, which need to do more carbon-capture and switch to hydrogen sources; and agriculture, where climate smart practices such as reforestation will make a huge difference. Vital details on what these incentives will be and how they will be funded are missing.
Don’t expect much from the G7.