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G7 Nations Take Aggressive Climate Action, But Hold Back on Coal

  • June 14, 2021

“President Biden has committed to tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad, rallying the rest of the world at the leaders summit, G7, and beyond to reach for bold targets within the next decade,” said Daleep Singh, deputy national security adviser. “While the previous administration ignored the science and consequences of climate change, our administration has taken unprecedented actions to prioritize this on the global stage.”

In addition to rejoining the 2015 Paris Agreement that Mr. Trump abandoned, Mr. Biden has promised to cut the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and to eliminate fossil fuel emissions from America’s power sector by 2035.

But it was the United Kingdom, along with some other European countries, that had pushed aggressively during the summit this year to stop burning coal for electricity by a specific date in the 2030s. Burning coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, and after a pandemic-year retreat, demand for coal is expected to rise by 4.5 percent this year, according to the International Energy Agency.

Instead, the final language of the leaders’ “communiqué” makes only a vague call to “rapidly scale up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away” from coal without carbon capture technology.

The debate at the summit over how quickly to abandon coal came at a particularly delicate moment for Mr. Biden, whose push for a major infrastructure package in a closely divided Congress may depend on the vote of one Democratic senator: Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia.

In a statement to The New York Times, Mr. Manchin noted “projections showing that fossil fuels, including coal, will be part of the global energy mix for decades to come” and praised the Biden administration for recognizing the need to develop clean energy technologies. But advocates for faster action said concerns about placating Mr. Manchin appeared to have prevented more aggressive steps.

“Once again Joe Manchin is casting a heavy shadow,” said Alden Meyer, a senior associate at E3G, a European environmental think tank.

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