Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to a G7 commitment to deep cuts in carbon emissions by 2050 — with an eventual stop in the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century.
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The call for a low-carbon footprint will "require a transformation in our energy sectors," Harper said Monday at a news conference in Germany, following the two-day G7 summit.
"Nobody's going to start to shut down their industries or turn off the lights," he said. "We've simply got to find a way to create lower-carbon emitting sources of energy — and that work is ongoing."
Canada and Japan blocked attempts at a stronger statement on binding greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to The Canadian Press sources who saw a working draft of the G7 communiqué, which was released today as the summit wrapped up.
"Nobody's going to start to shut down their industries or turn off the lights." - Prime Minister Stephen Harper
"We emphasize that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century," the G7 leaders said in their final communiqué.
"We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050 and invite all countries to join us in this endeavour."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been pushing the G7 to endorse a pledge to reach zero carbon emissions.
"Canada and Japan are the most concerned about this one," said one source who was privy to discussions but would only speak on the condition of anonymity. "The two of those countries have been the most difficult on every issue on climate."
During question period on Monday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the government's role in "toning down" the communiqué leaves "Canada with an environmental black eye on the world stage."
In May, Canada committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 — an ambitious goal that will rely on emission targets previously announced by the provinces.
The G7 commitment comes in the midst of a United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany, and ahead of a more major one in Paris in December that hopes to negotiate a new, post-2020 global climate agreement.
Members of the Climate Action Network, an international coalition of more than 850 organizations, called the G7 agreement a "groundbreaking" one that will help push forward the new global agreement.
"The course is right, but more speed, ambition and specific actions are needed," Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative, said in a statement.
"The course is right, but more speed, ambition and specific actions are needed." - Samantha Smith, WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative
"Developing countries are ready to move fast and far on renewables, but they need finance and technology from rich countries to do it. We need to see more of these concrete commitments for immediate action."
Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement that the agreement is a sign that "the end of the fossil fuel era is inevitable, and the dawning of the age of renewables is unstoppable.
"Now G7 countries must increase the ambition of their domestic climate plans, so as to do their fair share of meeting this global goal."
Harper slams Putin at G7
The two-day G7 summit in the Bavarian alps touched on various international issues, including the global economic recovery, fighting terrorism and its financing, as well as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
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The G7 — which includes the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as the president of the European Council and the president of the European Commission — was formerly the G8 until Russia was suspended last year over its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.
Harper described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a disruptive force whose former role in the organization inhibited co-operation.
"Mr. Putin makes it his business to be deliberately troublesome," he said.
While there may be cases in which G7 countries have to deal with Putin "because Russia remains an important country on some issues," Harper emphasized that Putin does not share the values of G7 members.
"The G7 is a group of countries that share fundamental values and objectives in the world. We share similar types of economies so we share similar problems. We also share similar values — deep, progressive and aggressive commitments towards democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law," he said.
"Mr. Putin fits none of these definitions."