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PICAN Calls for Urgent Action Beyond G7 Climate Commitments to Protect Pacific Islands



Response to the G7 Climate, Energy, and Environment Ministers' Communique


PICANs analysis of G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers Communique
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[Suva, Fiji] 21 May 2024 — PICAN acknowledges the commitments laid out by the G7 nations in their recent communique. While these commitments indicate a recognition of the climate crisis, they lack the urgency and specific actions required to mitigate the immediate and devastating impacts faced by front-line communities, such as those in the Pacific Islands.


We welcome:


The Recognition of the Triple Planetary Crisis

The framing of the triple planetary crisis we are in and in so doing linking the critical processes that intersect and should be viewed in a more holistic way in our policy space which includes the intersecting and dynamic UNFCCC COP, CBD COP and UNCDD COP. We welcome the commitment by the G7 to pursue the swift ratification of the United Nations Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction Treaty (BBNJ), committing to achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030, and committing to end plastic pollution and support the completion of a binding instrument on plastic pollution by the end of 2024.  


Gender and LGBTQIA+ Equity

The reaffirmation of the G7’s commitment to put gender and LGBTQIA+ equity at the heart of efforts to tackle the triple crisis and to accelerate clean energy transition, taking all appropriate measures for the empowerment of women and girls, as well as LGBTQIA+ persons to support the creation of an innovative and inclusive workforce, equipped with the knowledge and skills needed. We urge G7 leaders to consider what this would truly look like and mean in terms of a rights based approach, considering principles and participation in implementation in policies and plans. We urge the G7, through their leadership, to progressively take action to ensure that  gender and LGBTQIA+ equity is globally realised. 


Critical Analysis of G7 Commitments reveals the following inadequacies:

Insufficient Pace and Scale of Fossil Fuel Phase-Out

The G7's emphasis on "phasing out unabated coal power generation" and transitioning "away from fossil fuels in energy systems" by 2050 does not align with the immediate reductions required. The G7 communique does not commit to halting new fossil fuel projects, which is crucial for preventing additional emissions. We urge the immediate cessation of all new fossil fuel infrastructure and a clear timeline for phasing out existing fossil fuel reliance. 


We are concerned to see gas as a bridging fuel and remind the G7 that the remaining carbon budget has no room for false solutions and false narratives. Fossil gas investments will only increase path dependencies and lock in dependence on fossil fuels and emissions for decades.


We are now even more concerned to see that major emitters like Australia have embraced the signal  of the G7 and will be expanding gas as a bridging fuel.


We are confused to see paragraph 13. Reducing methane emissions in third countries oil and gas producing economies. We note the critical importance of this, however you must start in your own backyard - the natural gas you espouse as a bridge in paragraph 11 has methane leakage across its value chain. 


We remind you of the legacy of Nuclear that has been dumped in our waters and poisons our lands. The danger that Nuclear energy poses to the livability of our planet makes its expansion of worrying global importance. We instead applaud the ongoing work on nuclear fusion. The ability to generate truly clear energy for all is a promising prospect and we call on the G7 countries to facilitate our youth and scientists to engage in the process of unlocking this solution which can be a global good for all. 


Over Reliance on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Markets

The G7 statements on enhancing carbon management technologies, including CCS, as essential components in sectors like industrial decarbonization, are critically concerning. PICAN views these technologies as risky and unreliable solutions that divert attention and resources from proven renewable energy technologies that need to be scaled up now.


Incorporating carbon offset mechanisms into climate strategies presents significant contradictions and risks. While ostensibly aligning with global climate goals like the 1.5°C target set by the Paris Agreement, reliance on carbon markets can undermine direct emission reduction efforts, potentially conflicting with a country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). 


Historically, carbon markets such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol have often failed to achieve meaningful environmental outcomes or deliver substantial community benefits, with most financial gains benefitting intermediaries rather than supporting sustainable development. Furthermore, prioritising market-based approaches may divert essential government support and climate finance away from direct investments in renewable energy and conservation projects, leading to further environmental degradation and increased health and societal risks, especially for vulnerable local and indigenous communities.


Just Energy Transition Pathways (JETPs) have not delivered to date

The G7 will lean on JETPS as a financing model however this is a flawed model which relies heavily on attracting private investment through blended finance, which has proven insufficient. Private investors prioritise profit and are hesitant to invest in developing countries due to perceived higher risks. The result is a lack of funding for the energy transition projects in these countries, leaving them with the burden of taking on more debt to finance the transition themselves. Additionally, the JETPs require developing countries to create a favourable environment for private investment, often including privatisation of their energy systems, which could compromise their energy sovereignty.


Inadequate Climate Finance

The G7’s commitment to mobilising financial resources emphasises the importance of scaling up private and public investment. However, there is a notable lack of specific commitments to significantly increase grant-based and concessional finance. We call for a drastic increase in direct financial support for adaptation, mitigation, and particularly for addressing loss and damage, which should be new and additional to existing development aid. The overwhelming focus on making finance flows consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement in curious especially as the commitments you make are not in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement as for instance is evident in paragraph 16 vi which states “...end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuels energy sector except in limited circumstances…”. 


We also express serious concerns in strengthening the mandates of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) which cannot deliver the rights based, just and equitable finance that is required for climate action without first seeing the deep systemic transformation of the institutions. This includes shareholder structure, concerns with concessionality and the over allocation of loans, and the neocolonial way in which projects and programmes have been implemented in developing countries.   


We also stress that all fossil fuel subsidies are inefficient and this should be the ‘common’ definition of ‘inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’


Lack of Support for Real Loss and Damage 

While the G7 notes concerns about various global crises, there is no strong commitment to support real loss and damage mechanisms that are crucial for regions already suffering from irreversible climate impacts.  It is a fallacy to talk of the triple planetary crisis and then avoid your responsibility in dealing with its consequences on the most vulnerable. 


Whilst Dubai established the Loss and Damage Fund, this will be inconsequential unless it is properly capitalised with new, additional, grant finance that is commiserate to needs of developing countries. Although the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund is a significant step forward, the critical need for significantly scaled-up grant-based finance remains unaddressed. The current text does not establish a clear connection between the Loss and Damage Fund and the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance. This linkage is essential for a coherent and comprehensive approach to climate finance for SIDS. The NCQG must include comprehensive provisions for loss and damage, advocating for financing mechanisms that provide fiscal space for SIDS to effectively respond to climate impacts. 


For the survival of SIDS, it is imperative that the NCQG reflects the true scale of these needs and includes dedicated sub-goals for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage. Developed countries, particularly the G7, must fulfil their obligations by providing public, grant, and concessional finance, adhering to the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities as outlined in the Paris Agreement. The operational status of the Loss and Damage Fund provides a crucial context for ongoing NCQG discussions, paving the way for a more robust and effective climate finance framework that ensures loss and damage receive the urgent recognition and resources they deserve. The G7's commitment to support through a variety of funding sources and strive for complementarity is commendable, but only if these sources are justice aligned and make use of approaches such as polluter-pays. Importantly, it must be complemented by a clear and substantial increase in grant-based finance to truly address the scale of the climate crisis facing SIDS.


1.5C Aligned NDCS

While the G7 commits to reducing GHG emissions in line with the 1.5C pathway, we note that G7 reductions by around 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 relative to 2019 levels is a misinterpretation of the IPCC pathways as this does not take into consideration equity dimensions. The G7 with its significant means must go first, furthest, fastest, as this not only creates the favourable investment signals for a just and equitable phaseout of fossil fuels but will enable all other economies to follow suit. We also reiterate that there is no space for false solutions within NDCs as there is no leeway remaining with the carbon budget we have left. 


Tripling Renewables

The G7 text on critical minerals poses several dangers for Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS). While it emphasises responsible sourcing and sustainable development, the push for urgency and increased extraction and processing of critical minerals in these regions is already seeing a new ‘gold’ rush blooming in our highly vulnerable region. The ensuing environmental degradation, displacement of local communities, and potential inequity in the exploitation of resources will have devastating consequences to our communities and ecosystems and will be against the Kunming Biodiversity targets. 


The focus on attracting private investment and adhering to ESG standards may not adequately safeguard the interests of vulnerable communities and ecosystems. The language of the communique is worrying however as it has undertones of protectionism and undermining the sovereignty of resource rich countries, we expect again that it is the duty of the G7 to lead by example and hold all developed countries to the same standard. Additionally, the emphasis on supply chain diversification could lead to greater competition among developing countries, potentially undermining their bargaining power and ability to benefit equitably from their resources. 


Minimum demands for action

To conclude, the demands for immediate action remain the same:

  • Halt All New Fossil Fuel Projects: Immediate action is needed to stop all new coal, oil, and gas projects to prevent locking in further emissions.

  • Rapid Transition to Renewable Energy: Increase investment in renewable energy infrastructure and technology transfer to ensure a swift and just transition that supports vulnerable economies.

  • Substantial Increase in Climate Finance: Commit to specific, increased contributions to climate finance that address the needs for adaptation and loss and damage, ensuring that these funds are accessible and adequate.


The G7 nations, as historical emitters and current leaders, have both a moral obligation and a pivotal role to play in ensuring a climate-safe future. It is imperative that their actions not only align with scientific imperatives but also with the principles of justice and equity. The time to act is now. Future generations depend on the bold steps we take today.


ENDS




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PICANs analysis of G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers Communique
.pdf
Download PDF • 88KB

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