Germany’s government is rejecting criticism that it has pushed ahead at a summit of leaders of seven major industrialized democracies to weaken existing commitments to phase out natural gas.
BERLIN — The German government on Monday rejected criticism that it watered down existing commitments to phase out natural gas at a summit of the leaders of the Seven major industrialized democracies, saying the final announcement was in line with international climate efforts.
Environmental campaigners have criticized Japan’s leaders’ decision to support the construction of new infrastructure for liquefied natural gas, the planet-warming fossil fuel. In its final text, the G7 said that “investment in the sector may be appropriate in response to the current crisis and to address potential gas market imperfections triggered by Russia’s attack on Ukraine.”
“In the exceptional situation of accelerating the phasing out of our dependence on Russian energy sources, publicly supported investment in the gas sector may be appropriate as a temporary response,” the G7 said, adding that it should be done in a way that is consistent; efforts to curb global warming.
Tracey Carthy of Greenpeace International said the approval of new fossil gas infrastructure was “a blatant denial of the climate emergency”.
“Fossil gas is one of the most polluting forms of energy, and in its liquefied form the carbon emissions can be just as bad as coal,” he said.
Friederike Roeder of the campaign group Global Citizen said Germany’s role in the G7 talks was “particularly disappointing”.
“The EU’s role in international climate diplomacy is important, but if Germany, as the largest member state, continues to focus its negotiating power on new gas investments rather than leading the way for a fossil fuel-free future, this will not be possible. ” he said.
German government spokesman Steffen Hebstreit said all G7 countries have now set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by mid-century or sooner, meaning the gas will only be used for another 27 years.
“And this time, too, gas will be needed,” he told reporters in Berlin.
“In the past, Germany has never said that it completely rejects the exploitation of new gas fields,” Hebstreit said.
At the meeting in Hiroshima, G7 leaders also expressed support for energy conservation measures and the rapid deployment of renewable energy generation such as wind and solar.