Subject to market risks: G7 leaders significantly watered down previous commitments to end support for fossil fuels. | Photo: www.g7germany.de_ Federal GovernmentSteins

G7 leaders backtrack on key climate commitments at summit

The G7 summit did not end on a good note for climate activists. Member countries have given themselves room to continue non-fossil fuel investments in “exceptional circumstances”. The countries had previously vowed to end public support to fossil fuels by 2022. G7 leaders also backtracked on a commitment to making half of all vehicles zero-emission by 2030. This decision was primarily taken because of pressure from Japan. Experts said these commitments were watered down largely because of the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There was also pressure from UK and EU automakers, according to experts. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, attended the summit and called on rich countries to support India’s efforts to combat climate change while making a case for the country’s emerging market for clean energy technology. 

EU makes progress on climate laws, but will energy charter hamper efforts?

The past few weeks have been busy for the European Parliament with members debating and bringing the bloc’s climate laws into force. Following passage of laws regarding the revision of the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) and Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), yet more laws were codified, including the setting up of a multi-billion Euro fund. But while the European Parliament has been making good progress, a 28-year-old treaty protecting high-carbon investments has been a thorn on the side.

An attempt to modernise the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) achieved some degree of success this month. A fresh deal now removes any legal protection for new fossil fuel projects in the UK and EU. This 10-year transition period, however, has been met with criticism from environmentalists who believe a complete exit from the treaty is the only way for the EU to meet its climate objectives.  

Developers in India can now buy plantations from private owners for compensatory afforestation

New rules have allowed project developers to buy land with plantations from private owners and present them as compensatory afforestation. According to the Forest (Conservation) Rules 2022, developers who divert forest for non-forest activities must purchase land that is 10 ha and have trees that are at least five years old with a density of 0.4 or more. Previous rules stipulated developers had to purchase land that was not deemed a forest and bear the cost of compensatory afforestation on the same plot.

Farmers’ protests rattle Dutch plans to curb livestock emissions

The Dutch government is facing widespread protests by farmers for its plans to drastically cut emissions from its agricultural sector. The protests, which have been simmering since the passage of the Dutch National Climate Agreement in 2019, have escalated over the past month after the government released its targets for reducing emissions in rural areas. The past two weeks have seen protestors blockade several roads with tractor rallies attended by several thousands of farmers. Under pressure from court rulings which have blocked permits for infrastructure due to the country’s missed emission targets and having signed on to the EU’s climate action plans, the government has sought to cut nitrogen emissions by up to 70% in 131 locations close to areas close to protected natural zones (Natura 200 areas). The plans to cut nitrogen emissions, mainly from nitrogen oxide and ammonia, by 50% by 2030 would see farmers cut their emissions by 40%, implying a 30% reduction in livestock. The government, which has termed the emission cuts as an “unavoidable transition” has earmarked 24.3 billion Euros help push through the plan and finance the reduction in livestock. Importantly, farmers are not protesting the need for emissions reductions as a whole, but rather have expressed discontent that they are being disproportionately burdened for historic emissions for which they are not responsible.

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