Accessibility links

OPINION: G7 places climate change high on the agenda

Positive commitments at the G7 summit in Germany could provide a timely boost to the slow-moving UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn, report CDKN’s Sam Unsworth and Chris Webb.

Leaders from some of the world’s largest economies have issued timely and promising statements on their commitments to tackle climate change in the G7 Summit Leaders’ Statement. They have committed to a global climate agreement in Paris this year that is “ambitious, robust, inclusive and reflects evolving national circumstances”. More importantly, they also clearly signalled the need for this to be anchored in a broader, multifaceted solution. This includes the Sustainable Development Goals and related Financing for Development alongside targeting official development assistance to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

It is notable that four and a half pages of the 17-page G7 communiqué are focused on climate change, energy and environment. Such vocal commitment to action on climate change from political heavyweights could help trigger action, as negotiators in Bonn currently bogged down in technical details. Together with the bilateral US-China climate deal, this clear signal of ambition and financial support may build much needed bridges between the developed and developing world during the increasingly tense negotiations.

The key messages from the G7

The G7 have been impressively comprehensive in their coverage of both adaptation and mitigation issues, driven by the ambition of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. INDCs are identified as being crucial to an effective global response to climate change. Members also commit to developing long term national low carbon strategies, with ‘low carbon’ mentioned 7 times in the communiqué. A long term target of decarbonising the global economy over the course of the century is stated. It is unclear whether this explicitly equates to net zero carbon emissions by 2100. However the commitment to 40-70% emissions reductions by 2050 compared with 2010 levels can be considered a step in the right direction if accompanied with the necessary actions.

Climate-related disaster risk and insurance is emphasised, including the importance of learning lessons from initiatives such as the African Risk Capacity which is supported by CDKN. With regard to climate finance, the talk of “providing” as well as “mobilising” the $100 billion goal for the Green Climate Fund represents a significant step forward. While it is worth noting that others are expected to contribute alongside the G7, this statement could stimulate financial flows to those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change sooner than expected.

Multilateral development banks are identified as crucial to providing long term public and private finance for addressing climate change. The World Bank is seen as having a role in supporting the G7’s commitment to establish a global policy knowledge exchange as well as exploring market and regulatory solutions to climate change. The commitments to achieving an ambitious Post-2015 Agenda for Sustainable Development and using official development assistance in line with the 0.7% ODA/GNI target may be somewhat unsurprising.  However they constitute endorsements which carry significant political clout, reflecting the broader impact that this timely G7 announcement is likely to have.

Read CDKN’s analysis of this month’s UNFCCC negotiations – the intersessional meetings – in Bonn, Germany.


Image: G7 Leaders, Bavaria, Germany, June 2015. Courtesy Number 10, Prime Minister’s Office,

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>