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G7 in Italy says goodbye to fossils but opens the door to gas

In Borgo Egnazia, the G7 repeats the commitments already made at previous ministerial summits

The summit of Borgo Egnazia was limited to repeat the same commitments on climate and energy already presented in recent months. The final communiqué of the G7 in Italy is mostly a photocopy of those of Venaria and Stresa. From which no noteworthy advances had come. No leap in ambition, no new targets to weigh and discuss later this year at COP29 to try to get a better deal.

There is the transition from fossils

In this somewhat surprising final communiqué, a point worthy of note is the reference to the key decisions taken at COP28 in Dubai last year. It reaffirms the goal of tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. Most importantly, it confirms the commitment to pursue a “transition from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly, and equitable way.” This was not a given.There is, perhaps, one more positive element: the G7 Puglia is committed to “accelerate action in this critical decade” to reach net-zero by 2050, “following the best available science.” However, the commitment lacks specific timings, concrete actions, and practical indications. These aspects, far from secondary, would have made a significant difference.

There is general talk of “making these commitments operational by developing and implementing national plans, policies, and actions,” which will be integrated into Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and long-term strategies. The communiqué also emphasizes deploying “intensive” efforts to reduce “demand and consumption of fossil fuels.”

G7 in Italy Opens the Door to Fossil Gas

However, there is something far from reassuring in the final communiqué: the G7 Puglia endorses fossil gas, using Russia as a pretext, and allows public funding for this fossil source, albeit with “extenuating circumstances.” This is the key passage:

“In the exceptional circumstance of accelerating the phase-out of our dependency on Russian energy, publicly supported investments in the gas sector can be appropriate as a temporary response, subject to clearly defined national circumstances, if implemented in a manner consistent with our climate objectives without creating lock-in effects, for example by ensuring that projects are integrated into national strategies for the development of low-carbon and renewable hydrogen“.  

Allowing gas as a “temporary” response, without specifying how long this “window” will remain open, permits public investment in gas without setting an expiration date. Considering that most new gas projects must have a horizon of several decades to be economically viable, the G7 Puglia is effectively suggesting one of two outcomes: either gas will remain in the energy mix far beyond the date that climate science suggests it should be abandoned, or there will be a risk of wasting public funds on fossil projects.

Even the “reassurance” about the role of hydrogen is, in reality, a conduit for fossil gas, since the H2-ready pipelines would still carry a mix of hydrogen and gas at 10-20% for a long time.

read also Italy, Germany and Austria accelerate on the southern hydrogen corridor

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