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Carbis Bay (United Kingdom) (AFP)
From defending the oceans to a “clean” recovery, the UK is using the G7 summit to mobilize its environmental allies, hoping to make a good impression months before the COP26 climate conference.
The climate emergency, along with the pandemic, is high on the agenda of the great powers gathered this weekend in rural Karbis Bay, in southwest England.
At his inauguration, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated the doctrine of a “green industrial revolution” to tackle environmental challenges and create jobs in the wake of the health crisis.
The United Kingdom, which is organizing in November COP26, the United Nations climate conference, in the Scottish city of Glasgow, has a lot at stake on a political and image level.
Greenpeace president Rebecca Newsom told AFP the country “has an important moral responsibility to be a leader on climate issues, both as a historic source of carbon dioxide and as the host of these major conferences.”
And he warned that “we must act, or the leaders of our world will fail us.”
– Masks and Pikachu –
This NGO made a stunning video for the occasion as it packed 300 drones into the sky to replicate the shapes of animals, and urged the G7 to “act now” on climate and biodiversity.
The areas around the summit have also been the scene of environmental demonstrations, from Oxfam activists in masks returning the faces of leaders, to those disguised as the iconic Pikachu Pokémon to ask Japan to stop using charcoal.
“We hope that President Joe Biden has changed the dynamics and that we see the ambitious goals we need on climate,” says Max Lawson, an activist with Oxfam.
Johnson insists that the G7 countries commit to halving their carbon emissions by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
This was already one of the key developments for the United States during the Biden climate conference in April, which saw Washington return to environmental defense.
In Carbis Bay, leaders can also adopt a common position on banning new polluting cars, similar to the UK, which will implement the measure in 2030.
But they are expected to move away from fossil fuels, despite calls from NGOs to halt extraction projects.
Johnson is regularly accused of sending mixed signals about the climate crisis, even though the country has enshrined its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 by law.
The leader flew to the summit from London, a journey that took less than an hour, compared to five hours by train.
– lead by example –
“What impression does this make in the face of climate negotiations? Lead by example. Take the crisis seriously,” the NGO Friends of the Earth tweeted.
Beyond climate, the Group of Seven industrialized nations must take steps on biodiversity, and Johnson wants them to commit to protecting “at least 30%” of land and oceans by this date.
For Ali Tabrizi, director of Seaspiracy, a successful documentary on Netflix, it is essential to move from promises to action and tackle industrial fishing.
“The oceans have been neglected for many years as an environmental issue. We have lost 90% of the big fish in recent decades and many species are on the verge of extinction,” he told AFP.
On the climate side, the main issue remains financing, to encourage developing countries to play their part, without which it would be impossible to respect the Paris climate agreements.
The Climate Action Network is calling on major nations to take a step forward to contribute to the energy transition. The Group of Seven (G7) has already committed to an infrastructure plan that includes a climate component.
“Without announcing the funding increase, the chances of success for the climate negotiations at COP26 in Glasgow in November are dwindling,” says Oror Matthew, NGO chair. In his opinion, “It is a matter of climate justice.”
© 2021 AFP