G7 communique makes only a passing reference to nuclear

15 June 2021

The final communique of the Group of Seven (G7) leaders who met in Cornwall, United Kingdom, from 11-13 June, “Our Shared Agenda for Global Action to Build Back Better” included an extensive section on Climate and Environment.

In the 25-page document, the G7 members, reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and “to ambitious and accelerated efforts to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and by 2050 at the latest, recognising the importance of significant action this decade”. The further committed to “cut our collective emissions by around half compared to 2010 or over half compared to 2005”. They pledged “to increase our efforts to keep a limit of 1.5°C temperature rise within reach and chart a G7 pathway towards Net Zero economies”. The G7 called “on all countries, in particular major emitting economies, to join us in these goals”.

The communique noted “the value of supporting international initiatives such as the OECD’s International Programme for Action on Climate Mechanism (IPAC)”, adding that ambitions “need to be supported by tangible actions in all sectors of our economies and societies”. The G7 said: “We will lead a technology-driven transition to Net Zero, supported by relevant policies, noting the clear roadmap provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and prioritising the most urgent and polluting sectors and activities.”

Specifically, in relation to energy, they said: “We will increase energy efficiency, accelerate renewable and other zero emissions energy deployment, reduce wasteful consumption, leverage innovation all whilst maintaining energy security…. We will phase out new direct government support for international carbon-intensive fossil fuel energy as soon as possible, with limited exceptions consistent with an ambitious climate neutrality pathway, the Paris Agreement, 1.5°C goal and best available science.”

Repeating the need for “tangible actions”, the G7 again referred to “the clear roadmap provided by the International Energy Agency”, recognising coal power generation as “the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions”, and committing to “rapidly scale-up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity”.

The G7 welcomed “the work by the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) and donors plan to commit up to $2 billion in the coming year to its Accelerating the Coal Transition and Integrating Renewable Energy programmes, noting that “these concessional resources are expected to mobilise up to $10 billion in co-financing, including from the private sector, to support renewable energy deployment in developing and emerging economies”. The G7 reaffirmed “our existing commitment to eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025”, and called on all countries “to join us, recognising the substantial financial resource this could unlock globally to support the transition and the need to commit to a clear timeline”.

To this end, “we will harness our collective strengths in science, technological innovation, policy design, financing, and regulation including through our launch of the G7 Industrial Decarbonisation Agenda to complement, support and amplify ambition of existing initiatives”. This includes further action on “public procurement, standards and industrial efforts to define and stimulate demand for green products and enhance energy and resource efficiency in industry”.

The G7, very much in line with several recent IEA reports, make only one passing reference to nuclear in the entire document. “We will focus on accelerating progress on electrification and batteries, hydrogen, carbon capture, usage and storage, zero emission aviation and shipping, and for those countries that opt to use it, nuclear power.” 

Responding the communiqué, Sama Bilbao y León, director general of World Nuclear Association, said: “If the G7 nations are committed to phasing out coal, then they will need to replace it with a low-carbon, affordable and around-the-clock proven energy source - only nuclear fits the bill."

She added: "Investing in nuclear energy will create jobs, reinvigorate economies and protect the planet. The G7 nations must turn their ambitions into actions and take all the steps necessary to maximise the contribution of nuclear power plants in operation today, and ensure a rapid and substantial increase in nuclear new build."

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