G7 leaders must stop climate change from making people starve!

6 June 2015

As G7 leaders gather in Schloss Elmau, ECO has a few concrete thoughts on how their work can nudge the UNFCCC process towards an ambitious agreement in Paris.

The first step is to move from “do as we say” to “do as we do”. G7 members have become quite comfortable telling other countries to follow low carbon pathways. But did you know that 5 of the G7 governments have reverted to coal and are burning more now than in 2009? This includes Japan, Germany and the UK. Japan has gone on a coal power-building spree—before and after the Fukushima disaster. And Germany is burning more lignite, or brown coal—the dirtiest of dirty fossil fuels.

These G7 coal emissions are significant—if G7 coal plants were a country, it would have the fifth highest emissions in the world. Emissions from G7 coal plants are double the fossil fuel emissions of Africa and 10 times of those of the 48 least developed countries.

Coal cheap nor does it bring bread to the table. The climate impacts of coal plants in the G7 are on track to cost the world $450 billion a year by the end of the century, according to modelling by Climate Analytics. G7 coal burning will cost Africa alone $84 billion a year by the end of the century. And in a world with a growing population – with hunger already a life-threatening issue for many — G7 coal burning on its own will be responsible for 7 million tonnes of crops lost each year which is 1% of staple crops in the poorest countries.

Fortunately, there is a recipe for kicking the coal habit. A recent report details country-specific plans and policies for each G7 country to become coal free: in France by 2020, Italy by the early 2020s, the UK by 2023, Canada and the US by 2030, Japan by 2035 and Germany by 2040.

So there’s no need to wait. Here’s the additional ambition you’ve been calling for, G7. You just need to look closer to home. After all, real leaders lead from the front, right?

G7 leaders must stop climate change from making people starve!

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