Environment, biodiversity and climate were on the agenda for the three-day G7 summit held August 24-26 in Biarritz, France. However, few concrete decisions have been taken. Report by EURACTIV partner, Le Journal de l’environnement.
At the G7 summit, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to mobilize states on topics as diverse as gender equality, relations with Africa, wartime sexual violence and the impending economic downturn.
In addition to this relatively consensual program, other issues were also discussed. The agenda of the summit included the question of taxing the digital sector or reviving negotiations with Iran on the nuclear agreement, with some results in the end.
This was not the case with regard to the environment, whereas biodiversity and the “protection of the planet” were among the “top priorities” of the summit.
Admittedly, the Heads of State and Government adopted the Metz Biodiversity Charter, which had been approved by a dozen environment ministers on 6 May.
The document, with its carefully chosen wording, aims to strengthen and improve “biodiversity policies, action plans and research programs”. However, the text does not provide any further details.
“This is the first international commitment in favor of biodiversity. We wanted to create momentum like we did for climate change,” explained the French president during a press conference on Monday August 26.
This commitment is a first step before the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, which will be held in China next year.
With biodiversity in mind, the G7 and nine Amazon countries have agreed to a partnership to reduce the damage caused by wildfires in the world’s largest carbon sink, the Amazon rainforest.
Coordinated by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, the first step is for the G7 countries to release 20 million dollars to finance the purchase of water bombers and the training of firefighters.
Although the Brazilian government officially rejected this aid because France had declared that it would refuse to ratify the EU-Mercosur agreement, the Brazilian president has now accepted it (on the condition that Brazil controls the funds).
In the longer term, the countries that share the Amazon rainforest have committed to reforest the areas cleared by the fires. A detailed plan to solve this problem will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September.
An unfinished pact
In addition, 32 fashion and textile companies presented their Fashion Pact, which includes a series of promises to reduce their impact on climate, biodiversity and the oceans. Companies can always do what they want, and no secretariat has been tasked with verifying the sincerity of the commitments made.
The UK, German and French governments have pledged to double their contributions to the UN Green Climate Fund. “This G7 makes it possible to mobilize, in total, nearly 5 billion euros to replenish the fund,” the president announced on Monday August 26.
Although it hasn’t been funded yet, that’s good news. Especially since the UN Secretary General’s climate summit begins in three weeks.
Nothing on decreasing freighter speed (yet)
Macron also announced that he would reduce the speed at which commercial ships currently sail.
“We are going to engage with the shipping companies to reduce the speed [of commercial vessels], which is one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions. It’s the first time we’ve done it,” he said.
However, no agreement has been signed between the G7 countries and the professional organisations. In Biarritz, the French president said he would announce the position of France and its supporters at the next meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in November.
The case is far from settled.
Four times the annual energy consumption of France
In the very last hours of the summit, the refrigeration sector presented its proposals. Led by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), this coalition for the promotion of efficiency in the cooling energy sector aims to reduce the electricity consumption of air conditioners and fans.
These machines, whose cooling fluids are powerful greenhouse gases, consume a total of 2,100 terawatt hours of electricity per year worldwide. This is the equivalent of four years of French energy consumption, according to a report by the International Energy Agency published in 2018.
Currently, ten devices are sold every second worldwide. Without improving their energy efficiency, they will continue to consume three times more energy in 2030 and emit more than 2 billion tons of CO2 per year.
Still waiting for China
“France, India, Rwanda, Chile, Burkina Faso and France have already agreed to raise efficiency standards for refrigeration equipment,” said Maxime Beaugrand, head of the IGSD’s Paris office.
It doesn’t seem so bad.
However, with the notable exception of India, none of the major air conditioner and fan producing countries are on the list of signatories.
Could this be a topic of discussion for the French president during his next state visit to China in November?
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]