Why the G7 matters – and how their action on climate change can prove it 

Flags of G7 members isolated with blur
Flags of G7 members isolated with blur. Photo by Tottem Torro on Adobe Stock.

The G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministerial takes place in Turin on April 28th-30th. Surrounded by the melting Alps, the city is home to the Italian automotive industry – a sector at the bleeding edge of the industrial transition, and the perfect setting for the G7 to reckon with both the opportunities and the dangers of the climate crisis. World expectations are high:

  • G20 countries will be assessing how G7 commitments amp up the pressure or let them off the hook in their high-profile climate talks under the Brazilian Presidency.  
  • Vulnerable developing countries expect the G7 to decarbonise faster and provide greater financial support to help them reduce emissions and adapt to a warming world. 
  • Following COP28 outcomes, what the G7 says now will demonstrate how concretely they are responding to Dubai’s Global Stocktake and preparing for tense negotiations this year around the future of climate finance  – setting the bar for the next generation of climate plans, with COP29 as a critical waypoint on the Road to Belem. 

Three climate priorities for the G7 

1. Ramping up domestic action 

Leading by example is the most direct way for the G7 to live up to these expectations – gaining praise for being ambitious and raising pressure on others to follow suit. This means planning the right way into the next decade but also delivering on existing targets. 

Climate targets

By early next year, all countries need to submit updated climate transition plans (known as Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs). Done well, NDCs can drive economy-wide prosperity and attract investment to accelerate the transition. To succeed, NDCs must provide long-term certainty about the G7’s competitiveness in the green economy.  

The G7 can set a high bar for the rest of the world by:

– Setting new 2035 climate targets this year, 

– Ensuring they limit warming to 1.5C by cutting 60% of global emissions by 2035,

– Detailing their energy transition plans, contributing to what they agreed to do at COP28. 

Accelerating the energy transition 

As expressed at the IEA 2024 Ministerial, the G7 also needs to “underscore that energy and climate security are inextricably linked and emphasise that clean energy transitions ensure energy security”. COP28’s agreement to double energy efficiency rates and triple renewable capacity this decade can deliver 85% of the cuts in unabated fossil fuels required by 2030, reducing exposure to the energy price volatility people suffered after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

To seize these benefits, the G7 must reaffirm their commitment to achieve a fully (or > 90%) decarbonised power sector by 2035 and show progress in both actions and investments to deliver. Key milestones would include: 

– Phasing out their unabated coal fleets by 2030,  

– Confirming they have met their commitment to build no new unabated coal power, and their continued support for partners globally to achieve the same, 

  • An aim to deliver annual wind and solar capacity additions of 230 GW by 2030.  

This also requires the G7 to step up its oil and gas reduction. To help them achieve these tougher climate goals, they could task the IEA to produce cost-effective G7 country pathways. 

2. Making the climate transition global 

Climate action can offer an oasis of global cooperation in a desert otherwise often hit by sandstorms of geopolitical turmoil and conflict. The G7 can leverage this to their advantage: efforts to ensure finance for climate flows into developing countries can help assert the G7’s role in the world and enhance trust in multilateralism. 

 The G7 has an array of tools at its disposal: 

  • the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) 
  • the Clean Energy Economy Action Plan (CEEAP) 
  • the Just Energy Transition Plans and their support for country platforms to pool sources of finance behind countries’ economic transformation and adaptation plans.  

These are worthy signals, but they are not yet felt on the ground – building on these, the G7 needs to detail what tangible and significant finance they will make available for developing countries via these initiatives. 

This year’s finance negotiations – known as the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) and set to culminate at COP29 – are currently a flashpoint of tension with developing countries. The G7 needs to take the toxicity out of the negotiations by detailing its commitment to fulfil its central role in scaled-up grant and concessional public finance. 

Setting a bold vision for how the NCQG can help unlock the torrents of climate finance needed from all sources – public, private, domestic, and international – is crucial for the political viability of the G7. This includes linking it to efforts to make finance more affordable, available, and accessible, as envisioned by Global South-led agendas to transform the global financial system, MDBs and the Bretton Woods Institutions.  

To show that its calls for International Finance Architecture (IFA) reform are not just a deflection from its international financing responsibilities, the G7 needs to demonstrate their progress towards: 

  • mandating private sector climate transition planning, 
  • making their national and international finance regulations encourage flows towards green finance. 

3. Taking climate safety seriously  

Last year was the warmest on record but could be the coolest of the coming decade. As we experience the effects of climate change more intensely each year, it is critical that the G7 comes forward with a plan to affirm they are taking climate safety seriously – both at home and abroad. 

A new G7 Global Resilience Action Plan – starting this year and continuing at the 2025 Canadian Presidency – could serve as a unified and coherent roadmap displaying the G7’s dedication to addressing adaptation and loss and damage at home and abroad. 

Such a plan, in tandem with a focus on bold new commitments to increase international finance for adaptation, could be structured around: 

  • Demonstrating how the G7 will ensure the achievement of the targets of the Global Goal on Adaptation (as agreed at COP28).  
  • A commitment to engage climate and finance ministers to reassert the global security imperative of acting on climate and the need for better global collaboration around climate risk management.  
  • A Leaders’ forum on the sidelines of UNGA in September to discuss options for global resilience initiatives with non-G7 partners. Such initiatives could build from domestic concerns around climate risks, ranging from forest fires to floods. 
  • A commitment for all G7 countries to pursue new adaptation partnerships with developing countries by 2025 building off initial examples from the UNSG’s Adaptation Pipeline Accelerator. 

Now more than ever, in a world defined by emerging powers and shifting alliances – and with the shadow of elections looming large – the G7 is under pressure to prove its relevance. To underscore its credibility in building partnerships and tackling this century’s most pressing challenges, the G7 – among climate ministers and ultimately at the Leaders’ Summit in June – must deliver on the high expectations it faces on climate change. 


Subscribe to our newsletter