SOME of the world's richest nations have thrown their weight behind a plan to stamp out fossil-fuel emissions by the end of the century in an unprecedented show of unity on climate change.
The Group of Seven is pushing to "decarbonise," meaning any polluting gases from burning oil, gas or coal must be cancelled out by carbon-capture or other technologies by 2100. Nations should aim for emission cuts near 70 per cent of 2010 levels by mid-century, the G7 said in a statement on Monday.
"Deep cuts in global greenhouse-gas emissions are required with a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century," the group said following a summit in Germany hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The G7 has been under pressure to act on climate change after the world's biggest polluter, China, took steps to curb its carbon output. The group's solidarity on the issue is significant ahead of a United Nations meeting in Paris in December, where more than 190 nations will aim to broker the first global emissions-reduction deal that's binding for all countries.
"This long-term decarbonisation goal will make evident to corporations and financial markets that the most lucrative investments will stem from low-carbon technologies," said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute in Washington.
"Today G7 leaders have stepped up to the plate with serious climate commitments."
Those commitments include expanding renewable energies in Africa and getting 400 million people access to insurance against the negative effects of climate change, the G7 said.
The group also called for greater efforts to provide climate aid. Wealthy nations and private investors agreed in 2009 to hand $US100 billion a year to developing nations by 2020 to nudge them toward greener development. Few rich countries have set out exactly how they will reach that goal.
"The course is right, but more speed, ambition and specific actions are needed," said Samantha Smith, who follows the UN climate talks for the environmental group WWF. "Developing countries are ready to move fast and far on renewables, but they need finance and technology from rich countries to do it."
The G7 leaders reiterated their commitment to eliminate "inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies" and said they aim to make the UN's Green Climate fund, which will channel aid to projects in developing countries, fully operational by the end of the year.
Envoys at the December summit in Paris will work on an agreement to limit climate change since the Industrial Revolution to 2 degrees Celsius. Previous UN gatherings have been hobbled by a lack of consensus among large polluters such as the US and China.
Environmental groups broadly welcomed the fact that the meeting at Germany's Elmau Castle resort acknowledged that "the days of fossil fuels and carbon pollution are numbered", but criticised members for being vague on the details.
"Elmau delivered," said Greenpeace climate expert Martin Kaiser, adding that at the summit "the vision of a 100 per cent renewable energy future is starting to take shape while spelling out the end of coal".
He added however that "some G7 leaders have left the door open for high risk technologies, like nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage".
Oxfam's Jorn Kalinski said that "G7 leaders have indicated that fossil fuels are on their way out" but added that "they must now live up to their own rhetoric and kick their dirty coal habit".