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G7 leaders focus on climate options and energy security

May 20, 2024

After days of intense meetings in Turin, Italy, on April 30, the G7 Ministers published their Climate, Energy and Environmental meeting communiqué. The Italian government put forward an ambitious vision and plan for this year’s G7 in the energy and climate space. The momentum at the G7 mirrored that of COP28; focusing on a range of climate solutions and their scalability and ability to contribute to energy and economic security, further defining the role of governments, the private sector, and financial institutions in the energy transition, along with an important focus on enabling energy access and decarbonization in developing countries.

First, a renewed focus on technology optionality and a holistic portfolio of solutions emphasized advanced clean energy technologies such as nuclear fission, fusion energy, and carbon capture and storage. With energy security being a top issue across the world’s largest energy importers, nuclear energy has seen a renaissance in Europe over the past 18 months, and the chorus to move toward an energy mix consisting of renewables and nuclear is growing consistently. The G7 meeting continued this momentum, with stakeholders emphasizing the need for abundant, cheap power and keeping down the system cost of the electricity transition.  

Noting the role that nuclear energy plays as a firm, zero-emissions energy source, the G7 committed to support countries that wish to opt for it, strengthen the independence of supply chains, and highlighted the role of advanced and small modular reactors.

Moreover, the G7 will establish a working group on fusion energy and promote international collaboration, consistent regulations, and private financing of fusion energy projects. As noted in the communiqué, “A coordinated approach of regulations and their implementation between fusion-forward countries will be sought by international collaborations between Governments including regulators for all fusion plants, taking into account the level of maturity of different designs and stages of development.”

On the heels of unprecedented carbon management policy support being enacted across the G7 members, in the official communiqué, the G7 recognized that carbon management technologies, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, are an essential component of the transition to net-zero and need to be deployed at greater speed and scale. Notably, the Group called to adopt policy measures needed to drive low- and near-zero emissions materials. They have also committed to advancing projects to significantly scale-up carbon management, noting the International Energy Agency’s Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, while striving for best practice in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects to capture the vast majority of emissions.

Second, energy and economic security formed the heart of discussions that heavily emphasized the need for efficient government support for deployment and unlocking affordable private capital in the run-up to the finance COP29 in Azerbaijan. In fact, stakeholders emphasized that pledges must become plans, resulting in technology deployment. Private sector participants pointed out the need for policymaking that consistently integrates innovation and learning while also creating certainty, thereby bolstering long-term planning to enable efficient risk-sharing and investment. While leaders recognized that trillions of dollars are needed for climate action, concrete actions to deliver climate finance were missing.

Third, with one of the summit’s major themes comprising a reframed relationship between developed and developing countries, participants put forward policy ideas on how to ensure more investment in developing countries including to enable energy access. There was broad recognition that while advanced economies should cooperate on technology implementation, enabling equitable access to technology globally in parallel is crucial. Research shows that only 10% of analyzed papers considered development as an outcome of interest in energy transitions research, with most analysis prioritizing climate goals, and focused on determining the energy mix (90% of the papers) and the emission pathways (60% of the papers) needed to meet these goals. Therefore, more needs to be done to enable energy access as a building block for climate action.

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