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G7 holds ‘strategic’ talks in climate hotspot Italy

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“France is expected to push for the G7 to phase out coal by 2030, but Japan is reluctant to set a date”

TURIN, Italy – G7 ministers meet for environment and climate change talks in Turin on Monday, with experts urging the highly industrialized countries to use their political clout, wealth and technologies to end fossil fuel use.

The Group of Seven meeting in the northern Italian city is the first big political session since the world pledged at the UN’s COP28 climate summit in December to transition away from coal, oil and gas.

It comes as a new report by a global climate institute shows the G7 is falling far short of its targets.

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Turin on Sunday, some burning photos of the G7 leaders as they accused them of failing future generations over the climate crisis.

Rome, which holds the G7 rotating presidency, says it wants Turin to be “a strategic link” between last year’s Conference of Parties in Dubai and COP29, which will take place in November in Azerbaijan.

The aim is “to make the course set out by COP28 practical, real, concrete,” Italian Environment and Energy Security Minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin said ahead of the meeting.

Italy, a climate change hotspot vulnerable to wildfires, drought and glacier retreat, is putting “biodiversity, ecosystems, warming seas” high on the agenda, he said.

Delegations from Dubai and Azerbaijan are in Turin, as well as from Brazil, which hosts the G20 this year.

Environment ministers from the G7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US, will meet for four working sessions over two days at the 17th century Palace of Venaria.

Environmentalists want to know how they intend to follow through on pledges such as the agreement in Dubai to double energy efficiency rates and triple renewable capacity by 2030.

The talks will stress the need to diversify sources of critical materials key to renewable energy systems, as well as minerals reuse, in a bid to stop overreliance on China, which dominates in green technologies.

Italy says rare earths and renewables will be part of discussions with African delegations invited to Turin.

Canada, France, Germany and the UK are pushing for a global treaty to reduce plastics pollution, and are expected to use the G7 to rally a reluctant US and Japan.

Climate watchers hope for a ramping up of support for less developed countries in decarbonizing their industrial production, with experts advising on particularly tricky sectors, like cement and steel.

There may be commitments on more funds for adaptation to climate change, and Italy said the G7 would discuss “innovative” financing models amid calls for more accessible finance for vulnerable countries.

Together the G7 makes up around 38 percent of the global economy and was responsible for 21 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, according to the Climate Analytics policy institute.

Not one member of the group is on track to meet existing emission reduction targets for 2030, managing instead to cut them by “at best around half of what is needed,” a report by the institute said last week.

The US finalized sweeping plans Thursday to curb emissions from fossil fuel plants, giving existing coal plants until 2032 to reduce their carbon dioxide output by 90 percent.

France is expected to push for the G7 to phase out coal by 2030, but Japan is reluctant to set a date.

Germany — Europe’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — is unwilling to wean off gas, as is Italy.

Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has vowed repeatedly to transform Italy into a gas hub for Europe, seeking new suppliers in the Mediterranean and Africa and expanding gas infrastructure.

Luca Bergamaschi, founder of Italian climate think tank ECCO, questioned Italy’s claim that gas was essential for its energy security, and said its interest in nascent technologies such as nuclear fusion is misguided.

G7 decisions “have a big impact on the markets and on the ideas and expectations of investors”, and Italy’s stewardship in Turin “will be watched closely”, he said.

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