The Group of Seven (G7) has agreed to step up efforts to advance commercial scale hydrogen from low carbon and renewable sources across its economies, including support for fuel cell deployment globally.
The intergovernmental organisation, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, met virtually on Friday (May 21), ahead of the G7 leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, UK next month, and agreed to phase out government funding for fossil fuel projects internationally in support of greener alternatives, like hydrogen.
As a first step the G7 countries will end all new finance for coal power by the end of 2021, matched by increased support for clean energy alternatives.
It was also agreed to accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity and to an overwhelmingly decarbonised power system in the 2030s.
“This event, which is a major stepping stone before we host the leaders G7 in Cornwall next month, has been dedicated to accelerating action within the G7 to tackle the twin challenges of climate change, and biodiversity loss, and we have seen substantial progress this week, notably on one of my personal priorities: ending coal,” said Alok Sharma, COP President-Designate.
“The G7 are united on the need to build back greener for the pandemic by putting climate, biodiversity and the environment at the heart of the worldwide Covid-19 recovery strategies and investments, and we are all committed to limiting global warming and keeping 1.5 degrees alive.
“I am proud that we are the first net zero G7, and to deliver on this we have all agreed to accelerate the transition away from dirty coal capacity to an overwhelmingly decarbonized power system in the 2030s.
“We’re also committed to phasing out international fossil fuel finance, beginning with an end to all new direct government support for international coal power by the end of 2021. This commitment I believe sends a clear signal to the world that coal is on the way out.
“On finance, the G7 has reaffirmed the goal to jointly mobilise $100bn annually through to 2025, agreeing to increase climate finance and funds directed towards projects protecting vulnerable people who are already feeling the effects of climate change.”
Commitment to hydrogen
Recognising the importance of maintaining energy security as the global energy systems are transformed, and the need for energy markets that are “open, flexible, transparent, competitive, sustainable, reliable and resilient”, the G7 committed to developing strategies and actions that “enhance our focus on the security of innovative, clean, safe and sustainable energy technologies”.
“This includes resilience in the face of cyber security threats, the system integration of variable renewable energy, energy storage, flexible power plants, hydrogen, as well as demand side management, smart grids, and related infrastructure including the accommodation of sustainable biofuels and hydrogen,” the G7 said in a statement Friday.
“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 also recognised the need to accelerate innovation this decade to meet its net zero goal by 2050 or sooner.
This includes scaling up demonstrations and the early deployment of zero and negative carbon technologies, like hydrogen.
“We recognise the importance of early action to decarbonise hard-to-abate industrial sectors such as iron and steel, cement, chemicals, and petrochemicals, to ensure that emissions across the entire economy reach net zero by 2050,” the G7 statement said.
“For these hard-to-abate sectors to achieve this, we commit to targeting 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 (including ammonia and fuels made from hydrogen).”
It added, “We recognise the importance of renewable and low carbon hydrogen on the pathway to net zero.
“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.
“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.”