G7 agrees to shut down coal plants by 2035, UK minister says, in climate breakthrough

Ministers from the Group of Seven nations have agreed to shut down all their coal plants by 2035 at the latest, a UK minister said on Monday, in a climate policy breakthrough that could influence other countries to do the same.

“We do have an agreement to phase out coal in the first half of the 2030s,” Andrew Bowie, a UK minister at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, told Class CNBC in Turin, Italy. “This is, by the way a historic agreement, something that we weren’t able to achieve at COP28 in Dubai last year.”

“So, to have the G7 nations come around the table to send that signal to the world — that we, the advanced economies of the world are committed to phasing out coal by the early 2030s — is quite incredible.”

The US State Department declined to comment on the G7 agreement. Last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules that will require coal-fired power plants to either capture nearly all of their climate pollution or shut down by 2039.

“Coming just days after the EPA released proposed new rules that will essentially lead to an accelerated phaseout schedule for most coal plants, this G7 commitment is a further confirmation from the US that coal is on its way out sooner rather than later,” said Katrine Petersen, a senior policy advisor at climate think tank E3G.

The commitment is “a major step forward in particular for Japan, as the only G7 country left without a commitment to move away from coal,” Petersen said.

Many of the other G7 nations already have national plans in place to phase out the fossil fuel. Around 16% of the G7s electricity comes from coal, Ember reports.

“This is another nail in the coffin for coal,” said Dave Jones, Ember’s Global Insights program director. “The journey to phase out coal power has been long: it’s been over seven years since the UK, France, Italy and Canada committed to phase out coal power, so it’s good to see the United States and especially Japan at last be more explicit on their intentions.”

He warned, however, that while coal power has been falling, gas consumption continues. “Coal might be the dirtiest, but all fossil fuels need to be ultimately phased out,” he said.

Fossil fuels are the main cause of the climate crisis. Almost every country in the world agreed last year to transition away from fossil fuels at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, but failing to put an end date on coal was seen as a shortcoming of those negotiations.

Energy, environment and climate ministers are meeting in Turin for talks that are expected to end on Tuesday.

The G7 — made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the European Union as a member with special status — typically leads on global climate policy. The group’s decisions often trickle down or influence the wider G20, which includes other big emitters, like China and India, as well as major fossil fuel producers, such as Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This story has been updated with additional information.

This post appeared first on cnn.com