G7 Announces Climate Targets, South Africa Charges Ahead

At the G7 Summit being held in Germany, world leaders committed to keep global temperature rise under 2C and to work for a global agreement to cut emissions 40-70% by 2050 (from 2010 levels) and zero by 2100.

Very good, except that we need to get to Zero Emissions by 2050, or we may never make it to 2100.

That’s what German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants, and she wants it written into a binding agreement. Apparently, Canada and Japan wouldn’t agree to it unless it was watered down. 

Canada’s bigger commitment is to tar sands, and Japan’s greater reliance on coal since the nuclear meltdown makes them serious laggards in the G7. 

"The two of those countries have been the most difficult on every issue on climate. They don’t want any types of targets in there, so I think they are trying to make it as vague as possible at this point," an anonymous source told The Canadian Press.

G7
(AP /Jerry Lampen)

We also need to reduce emissions significantly right now.

Taken together, the G7 is looking at merely stabilizing  emissions through 2030, despite the desperate need to reduce them now. Only the EU has science-based goals.

"The G7+EU INDCs on the table now show there is an extreme risk of locking in, until 2030, high emissions levels that are inconsistent with holding warming below 2C and to 1.5C. Waiting 15 years from today to increase emissions reductions – and 10 years after the 2020 agreement comes into force – could be very dangerous for the planet," says Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.

Canada and Japan’s targets are inadequate, and the US has more work to do.

While they aren’t willing to do more at home, the G7 committed to coordinating efforts to increase clean energy in Africa. 

Africa Well Along the Way 

In March, Environment Ministers across Africa released the Cairo Declaration, with all 54 countries demanding that global warming be limited to 1.5C by 2100.

They want help from the G7, but they also want the world’s biggest polluters to do more in their own countries.

In South Africa, solar and wind farms are popping up all over, set to "completely transform rural communities in terms of healthcare, education, job creation and a raft of other interventions. All this while putting green electricity on the grid at affordable prices," says Johan van den Berg, executive director of the South African Wind Energy Association.

One of the major goals is inclusiveness, and every community that hosts a renewable energy project gets equity through a trust. 15% of energy sales go to health care, education and job creation.

An amazing 4.3 gigawatts of renewable energy projects have come online in just the past four years, providing about 10% of the country’s electricity, reports The Guardian.

Wind energy now costs about half of a new coal-fired power plant, but that wasn’t the case in when South Africa committed to build the world’s largest coal plant in 2007. Medupi is still mired in cost over-runs and delays, but if it is finished, it will be a major polluter, producing another 4.8 GW of coal-fired electricity.

The South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre in Capetown trains people to run and maintain renewable energy projects and a wind tower factory has just opened nearby.

"On the continent, there really is the opportunity to leapfrog the old centralised large scale fossil fuel power and big grid paradigm. With technology and project prices continuing to drop, and rapid breakthroughs in battery and other storage technologies, I have no doubt that renewables will address all of our power needs in time. This will happen sooner than people think," Evan Rice, director of Cape Town’s Greencape, a government funded nonprofit development agency, told The Guardian.

Worldwide, out of 5500 GW of energy infrastructure expected to be added through 2030, two-thirds will be renewable and will be in developing countries – a 594% increase, says Pew’s Clean Energy Initiative. 

The top 10 emerging markets for renewable energy, in this order: Thailand; Bulgaria; Ukraine; Kenya; Peru; Taiwan, Province of China; Morocco; Vietnam; Pakistan; and the Philippines.

Read our article, India, Africa Charge Ahead On Renewable Energy.

Read Pew’s report, Power Shifts-Emerging Clean Energy Markets:

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