In response to the G7 Hiroshima Summit:
Listen to the warnings of science and accelerate the pace of decarbonization
May 22nd, 2023
Climate Action Network Japan (CAN-Japan)
The G7 Hiroshima Summit (G7 Leaders’ Summit) concluded with the release of a communiqué on May 20, one day ahead of the closing of the summit in Hiroshima, Japan.
Achieving the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target – which the G7 has reiterated repeatedly in its communiqué – is at significant risk. In its 6th Synthesis Report released in March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly stated that the global average temperature will likely exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century if current trends continue. Additionally, on May 17th, prior to the opening of the Hiroshima summit the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that there is a 66% probability that the global temperature will reach 1.5°C at least once in the five years from 2023 to 2027.
However, the G7 leaders, who carry with them the expectation of leading global decarbonization, failed to deliver amid this urgency.
Some progress was made by the G7 in bringing commitments made at April’s G7 Climate, Energy, and Environment Ministerial Meeting held in Sapporo to the Leaders’ level, such as on accelerating the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels, ending the construction of new unabated coal-fired power generation, and setting concrete targets for the introduction of renewable energy.
However, it did not specify a clear timeline for the phase-out of coal-fired generation which other countries had been demanding of Japan, nor did it commit to a full decarbonization of the power sector by 2035. It also allowed room for delays in achieving 100 percent electrified vehicles in new passenger car sales by 2035.
In addition, for the purpose of breaking away from Russian gas, the communiqué approved publicly supported investment in fossil gas as a temporary response. No matter the source of the gas, the most effective way to break our dependency on fossil fuels is by increasing energy efficiency and public investment in renewable energy. This support for investment in gas is not consistent with the communiqué’s calls for phasing out of and ending public support for unabated fossil fuels.
The use of hydrogen and ammonia in the power sector, currently promoted by Japan, was also recognized under the conditions that it be consistent with a 1.5°C goal pathway and avoids NOX and N2O emissions. As there is no realistic pathway for hydrogen/ammonia co-firing to meet these conditions, this should be effectively understood as the G7 withholding support for these technologies.
In order to achieve the global 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement, it is necessary to phase out fossil fuels – not only those that are considered “unabated” – and accelerate the transition to renewable energy. The G7 must take the lead in this rapid transition.
Reactions from CAN-Japan members
Hirotaka Koike, Government Affairs, Greenpeace Japan
“Despite tragic climate disasters such as extreme heat and flooding continuing to occur, this years’ G7 summit resulted in inadequate climate commitments, with discussions just being an extension of the status quo. In particular, goals of ending coal-fired power generation by 2030 and introducing zero-emission vehicles failed due to opposition from the Japanese government. The Japanese government’s misguided solutions, such as ammonia co-firing, contradict scientific evidence and the emission reduction targets of developing countries. Renewable energy and energy conservation are the only solutions, and the spread of false solutions will set back climate change action. On the environment, while we welcome the agreement to eradicate additional plastic pollution in all environments by 2040, limiting the production of plastic is the most effective solution, and we demand that every G7 country supports this proposal in the negotiations for the International Plastic Treaty.”
Masayoshi Iyoda, Deputy Team Leader, 350.org Japan
“Under the poor leadership of the Japanese presidency, the G7 agreement was inadequate in addressing the urgency of the climate crisis. Nonetheless, its contents are ahead of the level of climate and energy debates in Japan. The commitment to phase out fossil fuels and halt new coal fired power generation is a clear check on Prime Minister Kishida, who still allows for new construction of coal-fired power plants, continues to buy Russian fossil fuels that finance war, and has promised financial support for the fossil gas project in Mozambique. In solidarity with the citizens and youth in more than 21 countries around the world who have raised their voices calling for a fossil-free future to protect our climate and peace, we will continue to speak out for climate justice.”
Mie Asaoka, President, Kiko Network
“It must be said that this G7 agreement is insufficient to substantively move away from fossil fuels and promote a just transition to renewable energy, which are required in the response to the worsening climate crisis. Instead of showing leadership as the chair of G7 in 2023 to work for more ambitious measures on climate change, Japan has lobbied for the endorsement of ammonia-hydrogen co-firing and CCUS, blocking progress on climate commitments. Recognizing that the world is watching Japan’s climate policy with intense scrutiny, Japan must show a path to the rapid transition to renewable energy and decarbonization that is truly consistent with the 1.5℃ target, not merely a pretense of decarbonization.”
Takashi UCHIDA, Vice President, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Japan (CCL Japan)
“We evaluate the mention of the “Carbon Pricing Challenge,” which promotes carbon pricing globally, in clause 19 of the G7 Leaders’ Declaration. After following the statement that “carbon pricing as key measures in promoting a transformation to net zero, driving cost- efficient emission reductions” by “G7 Climate, Energy, and Environment Ministers’ Communique” issued in April. As an example, in Canada, 100% of carbon pricing income is invested in the carbon pricing trust fund and returned to each household every month. In Ontario it rises to $186 a month. Most households are getting more than the increase in energy prices. We, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Japan, hope that the Japanese government revises the system as the income (=budget) from carbon pricing directly returns (=cashback) to the people.”
Climate Action Network Japan（CAN-Japan）