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G7 agrees to shut down coal plants by 2035, UK minister says, in climate breakthrough

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Water vapor escapes from the cooling towers of the Niederaussem coal-fired power plant on March 25 in Bergheim, Germany.


Ministers from the Group of Seven countries have agreed to close all their coal-fired power plants by 2035 at the latest, a British minister said on Monday, in a major step forward in climate policy that could prompt more other countries to do the same.

Setting a deadline on the use of coal – the most climate-polluting fossil fuel – has been highly controversial during international climate negotiations. Japan, which got 32% of its electricity from coal in 2023, according to climate think tank Ember, blocked progress on the issue at previous G7 meetings, CNN previously reported.

“We have an agreement to phase out coal in the first half of the 2030s,” Andrew Bowie, UK minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, told CNBC Class in Turin, Italy. “This is a historic agreement, something we were unable to achieve at COP28 in Dubai last year.”

“So to see the G7 countries come together around the table to send this signal to the world – that we, the advanced economies of the world, are committed to phasing out coal by the early 2030s – is absolutely amazing. »

When asked to confirm the development, the UK Department of Energy and Net Zero referred CNN for the interview.

The US State Department declined to comment on the G7 deal. Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules that will force coal-fired power plants to capture almost all of their climate pollution or close their doors by 2039.

“Just days after the EPA released proposed new rules that will essentially lead to an accelerated phase-out schedule for most coal-fired power plants, this G7 commitment is further confirmation from the United States that the coal is about to disappear sooner rather than later,” Katrine said. Petersen, senior policy advisor at climate think tank E3G.

The pledge is “a major step forward, especially for Japan, as the only G7 country without a commitment to abandon coal,” Petersen said.

Many other G7 countries already have national plans in place to phase out fossil fuels. About 16% of the G7’s electricity comes from coal, Ember reports.

“It’s another nail in the coffin for coal,” said Dave Jones, director of Ember’s Global Insights program. “The road to phasing out coal power has been a long one: it’s been more than seven years since the UK, France, Italy and Canada committed to phasing out coal power . It is therefore good to see the United States and especially Japan finally being more explicit on this point. their intentions. »

He warned, however, that while coal-fired power was declining, gas consumption persisted. “Coal may be the dirtiest, but all fossil fuels must be phased out,” he said.

Fossil fuels are the main cause of the climate crisis. Almost every country in the world agreed last year to abandon fossil fuels at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, but failing to set a deadline for coal was seen as a policy shortcoming. these negotiations.

Energy, environment and climate ministers are meeting in Turin for negotiations which are expected to end on Tuesday.

The G7 – made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the European Union as a member with special status – is generally at the forefront of global climate policy. The group’s decisions often reverberate or influence the broader G20, which includes other major emitters, such as China and India, as well as major fossil fuel producers, such as Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Ella Nilsen contributed to this report.

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