From left, European Union Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Canada's Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, France' Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, and Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, pose for members of the media as they arrive at Karuizawa Station for a G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Karuizawa, Japan, Sunday, April 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andrew Harnik

No date for coal phase out as G7 environment ministers wrap meeting in Japan

OTTAWA — Environment and energy ministers from G7 countries wrapped two days of talks in northern Japan without acting on Canada’s push to set a timeline for phasing out coal-fired power plants.

In their 36-page communique after the meeting in Sapporo, the ministers restated their commitment to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, and promised to work with other countries to end new coal-fired power projects that don’t take steps to mitigate emissions.

Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told the Japanese public broadcaster last week that he hoped to see “strong language” in the final statement about the phaseout of coal.

The leaders instead reaffirmed they need to achieve a predominantly decarbonized power sector by 2035, which leaves the door open to fossil fuels.

Guilbeault has advocated for consensus on phasing out coal by 2030, as Canada has promised to do, but G7 environment ministers have struggled to find common ground on the issue as countries like Japan continue to rely on coal-powered electricity.

Japan advocated instead for its own natural strategy that includes the use of what the country calls “clean coal,” where the emissions are captured.

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