G7 to agree climate, conservation targets as summit ends

As G7 leaders wind up a three-day conference aimed at demonstrating renewed Western unity, they will approve new conservation and emission targets to combat climate change, as well as finalize collective action on several other fronts.

David Attenborough, a veteran environmentalist and broadcaster, told a summit of the world’s wealthiest nations on Sunday that the natural world had been “greatly degraded” and that inequality was rampant.

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“The question science forces us to address specifically in 2021 is whether as a result of these intertwined facts we are on the verge of destabilising the entire planet?” he said.

“If that is so, then the decisions we make this decade — in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations — are the most important in human history.”

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The G7 wants to “lead a worldwide Green Industrial Revolution to revolutionize the way we live,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the beachfront summit in Cornwall, southwest England.

The leaders will agree to protect at least 30 percent of both land and ocean by the end of the decade, in their first in-person meeting in nearly two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The “Nature Compact” reached to try to halt and reverse biodiversity loss also commits them to nearly halving their carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 2010.

It includes mandating the use of “unabated coal” — fuel whose emissions have not gone through any filtering — “as soon as possible”, ending most government support for the fossil fuel sector overseas, and phasing out petrol and diesel cars.

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Hailing the pact, host Boris Johnson said the G7 wanted to “drive a global Green Industrial Revolution to transform the way we live”.

“There is a direct relationship between reducing emissions, restoring nature, creating jobs and ensuring long-term economic growth,” the British prime minister added.

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Climate change was a top G7 priority for Britain at the summit in Carbis Bay, southwest England, as it prepares to host the UN COP26 environment summit in November.

However, even before the pledges were formally adopted, environmentalists slammed them for a lack of enforcement and scope.

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“Despite the green soundbites, Boris Johnson has simply reheated old promises and peppered his plan with hypocrisy, rather than taking real action to tackle the climate and nature emergency,” said Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven.

He also noted wealthy nations had a “dismal track record” over the last decade honouring international climate finance commitments.

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