FALMOUTH, England – The wealthy G7 democracies failed to agree on a timetable to end their use of coal for electricity, an EU official said on Sunday – leaving them with no firm commitment on a key climate issue at their annual summit.
The EU-backed British hosts had pushed for a pledge to “phase out” coal in the 2030s, the official said. But as leaders met Sunday morning to discuss climate policy, the draft statement contained only an open-ended vow to “hasten” the demise of carbon-intensive fuel.
Without a clear timeline, the final wording would be weaker than a commitment made by G7 environment ministers in May.
“It was a discussion – a difficult discussion,” as not all G7 members are in a position to commit to a date at this point, the EU official said, without naming the holdouts. “An overwhelming majority could have lived with the commitment in the 2030s but some could not because the challenge would be too great in terms of energy supply in this country.”
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Obviously it is up to each country to decide on its energy mix, but we continue to work with them to emphasize that renewables are the way forward.” Johnson wants to use the COP26 climate talks in the UK in November to craft a plan to end coal power.
Leaders still had time on Sunday to negotiate a last-minute deal, with naturalist David Attenborough addressing the group and imploring them to make tougher climate commitments. But the official said the EU had agreed “it’s going to be like this”.