The Group of Seven (G7) members have agreed to phase out support for “carbon intensive” fossil fuels as they look to limit a rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The G7 environment and climate ministers met virtually late last week and confirmed they would aim to keep a limit of a 1.5 degree Celcius temperature rise “within reach” by making their 2030 ambitions consistent with the aim of achieving net zero emissions as soon as possible and no later than 2050.

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In order to reach this goal, they committed to promoting the international flow of public and private capital in developing countries away from high-carbon power generation and toward Paris Agreement-aligned investments.

This will see the G7 members — which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US — end direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021.

They will also commit to phase out new direct government support for carbon intensive international fossil fuel energy, except “in limited circumstances at the discretion of each country”.

However, the G7 environment and climate ministers did also recognise that natural gas will still have a role to play in the energy transition.

“We recognise that natural gas may still be needed during the clean energy transition on a time-limited basis and we will work to abate related emissions towards overwhelmingly decarbonised power systems in the 2030s,” the G7 said in Friday’s statement.

“We also note the importance of ensuring secure, safe and sustainable clean energy supply chains, including with regards to critical minerals and critical renewables components.”

Just days after the G7 commitment, the UK unveiled £166.5 million ($235.6 million) in fresh funding on Monday to help drive the development of green technology, including hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), to lower emissions.

Hydrogen and CCUS

The G7 also committed to greater levels of innovation funding to lower the costs of industrial decarbonisation technologies, including the use of hydrogen, electrification, sustainable biomass, CCUS and synthetic fuels.

They also singled out the importance of both renewable and low carbon hydrogen in the pathway to reaching net zero emissions.

"We will step up efforts to advance commercial scale hydrogen from low carbon and renewable sources across our economies, including support for fuel cell deployment globally," Friday's statement read.

"This will help realise the development of a future international hydrogen market that creates new jobs for current and future workers in the energy sector."

Commitment to biodiversity

The G7 ministers also agreed last week to commit to conserving or protecting at least 30% of lands and oceans to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and address climate change.

While welcoming the “bold step” the G7 took to advocate for the safeguard of lands and oceans, Greenpeace USA claimed the language was “too vague” and called on the US government to take a stronger position.

“One could argue that 30% of US waters are already under a form of conservation, including areas where offshore drilling and commercial fishing are permitted,” Greenpeace USA senior oceans campaigner Arlo Hemphill said.

“Scientists tell us we must fully or highly protect 30% of the oceans and land to safeguard biodiversity and buffer the worst impacts of the climate crisis. We need areas with zero commercial extraction, where nature and fish populations that fisheries depend on can recover and thrive.

"The US is not yet committed to that level of protection, and we urge the Biden Administration to go further.”

The commitments from the G7 came just days after the International Energy Agency’s bombshell report, which laid out the prospect of an end to new fossil fuel exploration and development immediately to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius.