Environmental areas of focus for G7 Presidency

German G7 presidency

In June 2014 Germany took over the G7 Presidency. Environmental issues play an important role alongside economics, foreign policy and security

1. International Climate Agreement (COP 21 in Paris in November/December 2015)

We aim to provide significant impetus for an ambitious result during the German G7 Presidency. We want the G7 Summit Declaration to generate momentum for the decisive phase of international climate negotiations. This applies to both the swift submission of ambitious national climate action contributions for the new agreement and the long-term outlook. The result of the summit in Elmau proves that the G7 are determined to support an agreement that is legally binding for all countries, with binding rules at its core and an increase in climate action to maintain the two degree Celsius cap. For the first time the G7 have emphasised the necessity to decarbonise industry, sending a clear signal that phasing out carbon-based economic activities is a way that all nations must go together. To achieve this goal, the international community has to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by 40 to 70 percent compared to 2010, in line with the upper ranges of the IPCC recommendation. For this purpose the G7 will restructure their energy sectors by 2050.  

At the G7 summit in Brussels in June 2014, the group renewed the commitment of developed countries to mobilise 100 billion US dollars annually from public and private sources for climate finance starting in 2020. Private funding will play an important role in the necessary investments in climate action in developing countries around the world, such as in the field of renewable energies. At the summit in Elmau, the G7 clearly committed themselves to the 100 Billion US dollars. The German Presidency published a background study on long-term climate funding to scientifically support the UNFCCC during funding negotiations. Specific initiatives on climate risk insurance and mobilising climate funding for renewable energies in Africa highlight that the G7 are implementing their political commitment to mobilise private funding for climate action. 

By affirming to advance worldwide low-carbon growth through effective political measures including market-based tools, the G7 confirm their declaration that a decarbonisation of industry is necessary. In order to promote this goal, the G7 decided to establish a platform for a strategic dialogue on developing new impetus for a global carbon market. In addition, the G7 are undertaking efforts to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), also in the context of the Montreal Protocol. 

2. Post-2015 agenda for sustainable development

The post-2015 agenda for sustainable development will have a decisive impact on international cooperation in the field over the next decades. The agenda will point the way and outline the objectives to pushing forward with the long overdue transformation of national economies in moving towards sustainable development. The post-2015 agenda is due to be adopted by heads of state and government at the UN summit in September 2015. The goal is an agenda that is internationally agreed, globally oriented and universally applicable to all countries with a coherent target system that links poverty reduction and sustainable development. During the G7 Presidency, we want to support the negotiation of an ambitious post-2015 agenda. In February 2014, the Federal Government drafted a paper containing the key elements of its post-2015 agenda for sustainable development. The German position was elaborated further in a Cabinet Report, which the Federal Cabinet adopted in December 2014. The overarching framework of the agenda is to be the establishment of a global partnership as the basis for sharing responsibility for implementing the agenda.

At the summit in Elmau, the G7 sent a clear signal in support of the decision for an ambitious and universal post-2015 agenda for sustainable development in September 2015, which will address poverty reduction and the path to more sustainable resource management. The agenda is to take all three dimensions of sustainability equally into account. With this explicit commitment to the necessary global restructuring, the decision clearly surpasses previous G7 statements.

3. Resource Efficiency

Natural resources, especially raw materials, are essential factors of production and fundamental for value creation. Resource efficiency is therefore a key issue for competitive businesses and securing jobs in the future. The careful, efficient and sustainable use of natural resources can limit environmental impact, strengthen the competitiveness of the economy and create new jobs while securing long-term employment. Through the use of sustainably managed renewable resources we can conserve fossil resources. The German G7 Presidency was successful in making resource efficiency a priority of its presidency, placing the topic on top of the agenda at an international governmental process for the first time ever. The decisions of the summit contain an explicit commitment of the G7 to take ambitious measures to increase resource efficiency and establishing a G7 alliance for resource efficiency. The alliance is to serve as a permanent forum for the exchange of best practices between the G7 and stakeholders from industry, research and the public. Germany and future G7 Presidencies will organise workshops on different topics of resource efficiency every year, ensuring that the topic will stay on the agenda. In addition, the International Resource Panel (IRP) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will be requested to draw up a synthesis report pointing out where there is the most potential and identifying solutions for resource efficiency in industrial countries, emerging economies and developing countries.

4. Marine pollution

More and more waste is being dumped in oceans around the world, particularly plastic waste. All long-lived, produced or processed durable materials entering in the marine environment as refuse or as abandoned property are referred to as marine debris. The waste masses in the world's oceans harm marine ecosystems, including the "living resources". Seabirds and marine life become entangled in the waste, are strangled, or mistake the waste for food and starve. Upon decomposition, plastics discharge toxic and hormonally active substances such as plasticizers, flame retardants and UV filters which are taken up by the marine environment or organisms. This situation also poses risks to the health of human beings, who are at the top of the food chain. With a view to the worldwide challenges faced by marine ecosystems due to waste and considering the need to launch a worldwide movement to combat marine pollution, the G7 agreed on an action plan which addresses land- and sea-based sources, the question of how to remove litter from the sea, research and public relations. Agreeing on this action plan can be understood as a first step towards a worldwide effort against marine litter. The G7 succeeded in achieving a common understanding of the topic and the most important fields of action and approaches. Considering that there is a huge potential for reduction regarding litter reaching the sea, mainly from land sources, in emerging economies and developing countries, this agreement among the G7 now requires regional expansion in order to become a global movement.

5. Chernobyl Shelter Fund / Nuclear Safety and Security Group

The Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG), which was launched in 1992, works directly with the G7 sherpas and prepares the annual summit of heads of state and government in the field of nuclear safety on their behalf. The mandate of the NSSG includes in particular the provision of technically oriented strategic policy advice on issues that have an impact on nuclear safety and security in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. One focus is on the Chernobyl projects: In return for the closing of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the G7/G8 have undertaken to work together with Ukraine to make the efforts necessary to convert the site of the destroyed reactor block into an environmentally safe area and to provide the safe and reliable systems necessary for the safe decommissioning of the deactivated reactor blocks on the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plan. The G7/8 and other donors had promised an amount of around 1.5 billion euros; an additional 615 million euros is still needed. As Germany currently holds the G7 presidency, it will also be coordinating efforts in this field. Germany must focus on obtaining a consensus in the G7, so that preferably all G7 countries will pledge to make a contribution. Specifically to secure new funding to complete the sarcophagus around the damaged reactor, Germany organised a pledging conference on 29 April 2015 in London at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). This conference, chaired by State Secretary Flasbarth, ended with positive results. The required consensus between the G7 and the EU, which was an essential condition for closing the gap of 615 million euro of funding, was achieved. The construction of a new safe confinement for the damaged Block 4 will now be continued without interruptions. The stakeholders are still working to close the remaining gap of around 60 million euros of funding in the near future. 

In addition to reaffirming their commitment to nuclear safety, the G7 heads of state and government also welcomed the report of the NSSG. The working group had dealt with questions of managing radioactive waste, decommissioning and ageing management.

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