A parade of life-sized ‘Pikachus’ and a raft carrying giant inflatable mock-ups of Joe Biden and Boris Johnson have arrived in Cornwall in a bid to draw attention to the urgent Covid, climate, and nature crises, as pressure mounts on G7 leaders to deliver an historic global green recovery package this weekend.
Crack the Crisis, a coalition of over 75 charities and green groups representing 12 million UK citizens, has been launched this year in a bid to drum up more ambitious climate policies from world leaders in the run up to G7 Summit this weekend and the crucial COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow in November.
And as the G7 Summit kicks off today in Cornwall, a raft created by the Coalition that is carrying giant inflatable mock-ups of US President and the UK Prime Minister has taken to the waters in Falmouth, with a message for world leaders to collectively “crack the crises of Covid, climate, nature and injustice”.
The group is calling on the UK to show global leadership to help rapidly progress net zero emissions targets, internationally secure financial support for developing nations most heavily impacted by the climate crisis, and deliver a domestic Green New Deal to provide millions of new jobs. It is also urging G7 leaders to provide finance to help vaccinate the world against Covid-19, deliver ambitious agreements to stem the tide of nature-loss, and provide debt-relief to ease global poverty.
Coalition members include Oxfam, the RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Water Aid, the Fairtrade Foundation, Black2Nature, Tearfund, Islamic Relief, and Bioregional, among many others.
Meanwhile, protestors dressed as the Pokemon character Pikachu have today also descended onto the beach at Falmouth, calling on the Japanese government to stop burning coal for electricity by 2030, in a move organised by the No Coal Japan alliance of over 35 green groups around the world.
The Pikachu protest, the latest in a series that have taken place around the world, is also backed by the Beyond Coal campaign, which is calling for a coal power phase out across Australia, Europe, South Korea, and the USA by the end of the decade.
Back in May, environment ministers from the G7 published a communique setting out a collective ambition to end overseas coal financing in order to keep hopes of a 1.5C world alive.
But despite its recently adopted pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050, Japan still has around 6GW of new coal fired power capacity in the pipeline, while reports in the run-up to this weekend’s summit suggested the country’s negotiators have sought to dilute an agreement to end the use of domestic coal power by the end of the decade.
“As we have seen already throughout Europe and in the US, advanced economies are inevitably heading towards a complete phase out of coal power by 2030,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Beyond Coal campaign director for Europe. “Japan can save the international community a lot of climate headaches – and itself a lot of wasted time and money – by also committing to a 2030 phase out. The G7 summit provides a stage for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to join the rest of the G7 countries and help speed the end of coal in the OECD.”
Elsewhere at the summit, G7 leaders are reportedly discussing plans to help accelerate the shift from fossil fuel cars to electric vehicles across the world’s wealthiest economies as part of a broader package to combat climate change.
A draft G7 document seen by Bloomberg includes a proposal that would “strive” to ensure the majority of all new passenger cars are not powered by petrol or diesel “by 2030 or sooner”, but countries are reportedly currently divided over the specific policy measures required to achieve this outcome.
It remains to be seen whether leaders will sign off on the proposed wording of the draft document this weekend, or which policy measures might be agreed to support the overarching goal. However, such a target committing G7 nations to rapidly shift away from fossil fuel vehicles within a decade would be hugely significant, spelling major changes ahead for the global automotive sector, particularly with the US having so far failed to set a timeline for phasing out polluting cars.
There were also some signs of progress on climate finance, one of the major sticking points of the G7 and COP26 negotiations this year. Richer nations are collectively committed to providing $100bn a year from 2020 to assist developing nations suffering the heaviest climate impacts, yet have so far failed to meet the funding target. The issue is widely seen by developing nations as critical to securing a deal at COP26 and observers have repeatedly warned that without more progress on climate finance talks over other key aspects of the Paris Agreement could remain deadlocked.
But yesterday, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country would contribute more money to international climate finance efforts, in a move that climate campaigners will be hoping opens the door for further similar commitments from other G7 nations this weekend.
“Germany has doubled its climate financing since 2015, so we are very well on track, but we will also contribute more,” Merkel told a news conference after a meeting with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states, according to Reuters.