NEW YORK – This week’s G-7 meeting at Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps marked a major breakthrough in climate-change policy. The seven largest high-income economies (the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Canada) made the revolutionary decision to decarbonize their economies during this century.
For the first time in history, the major rich economies have agreed on the need to end their dependence on fossil fuels. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Barack Obama, and the other G-7 leaders have risen to the occasion and deserve strong global approbation.
The historic breakthrough is recorded in the final G-7 communiqué. First, the G-7 countries underscored the importance of holding global warming to below 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit). This means that the Earth’s average temperature should be kept within 2°C of the average temperature that prevailed before the start of the Industrial Revolution (roughly before 1800). Yet the global warming to date is already around 0.9°C – nearly half way to the upper limit.
Then, the G-7 leaders did something unprecedented. They acknowledged that in order to hold global warming below the 2°C limit, the world’s economies must end their dependence on fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas).