June was an exiting month as world leaders from North America, South America, Asia, and Europe announced key climate change initiatives that help move us closer to establishing an international climate agreement at the year-end negotiations in Paris. The G7 summit, the more recent announcements from the U.S. and Brazil, and the separate statements from China and South Korea have all demonstrated that leaders from different regions of the world are all taking the threat of climate change seriously
On June 7 and 8, the G7 countries of Germany, France, Japan, Canada, the U.S., Italy, and the U.K. met to discuss and streamline the text of an agreement that will cut global carbon emissions and come before the UN at the December Paris negotiations. The G7 is ambitiously leading the charge to tackle climate disruption head on through agreeing to limit climate change by 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit), in accordance with climate scientists’ recommendations.
In order to meet this 2 degree standard, these countries have all agreed to cut a significant amount of carbon pollution from their energy sectors by 2050. The G7 also agreed to support renewable energy initiatives in developing countries, specifically in Africa. These renewable energy initiatives will help to combat climate change, and give an unprecedented number of people access to clean energy. These countries will also continue to work hard on meeting their goal of mobilizing $100 billion (USD) annually for climate mitigation and facilitating clean energy access in developing countries.
Of course there are many obstacles on the road to Paris, and we still need countries to lead, but the G7 recognizes that climate change is a global challenge that can only be solved with strong international action. With their plan to support and accelerate clean energy in developing countries, the G7 will contribute to the expansion of clean energy technology, and will work to cut the pollution fueling climate change.
However, the G7 countries are not alone; there is a broader coalition of nations forming to tackle the challenge of our generation, climate change. On June 30, countries outside the G7 also demonstrated a desire to tackle climate disruption head on. The United States and Brazil released new renewable energy commitments, while China and South Korea respectively announced their own carbon emissions goals.
The U.S. and Brazil have pledged to work together on combating climate change. President Obama and President Dilma Rousseff released a joint statement in which they pledged to increase their respective share of renewables beyond hydropower to 20% by 2030. In the United States, that would triple the amount of renewable energy produced by non-hydropower renewables. In Brazil, the 20% increase would double the amount of renewable energy produced by non-hydropower renewables. Brazil has also set a goal to restore and reforest 12 million hectacres of forest by 2030.
The U.S. has also submitted a climate plan to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to cut carbon emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The EU has followed a path similar to the U.S. in submitting it’s own plan.
China has also submitted a climate plan to the UNFCCC in preparation for the international climate talks in Paris. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang has set a goal for his country to peak in emissions by 2030 or earlier, and has an emissions reduction target of 60 to 65% per unit of GDP—a great goal considering China’s rapidly increasing GDP. China has also committed to getting at least 20% of their energy from clean sources like wind and solar by that year, as well as achieve a goal to increase forest cover by 4.5 billion cubit meters.
The commitments the United States and China have made stem from their historic 2014 climate change agreement.
South Korea, has also announced a goal to reduce their carbon emissions. Previously, they declared a goal for a 15-30% reduction in emissions by 2030. The White House has played a leadership role and engaging with South Korean President Park Geun-hye to help strengthen South Korea’s formal climate plan submission to the UNFCCC.
South Korea has since raised their goal to reduce emissions by 37% by 2030.
The influential countries in the G7, Brazil, China, and Korea have set the stage for the international community to come together and tackle climate change, because these nations understand that it’s our responsibility to protect our planet for generations to come. The commitments made by these global leaders mark an important step forward and continue to build momentum for the Paris negotiations at the end of the year.