United States President Joe Biden stood with other world leaders at the end of the G7 summit on Saturday, calling for unity across the globe to tackle environmental concerns, the economy and a “return to diplomacy.”
The Group of 7 could not agree about when to stop burning coal, but did agree to halt funding by the end of they year for projects emitting carbon into the air.
The leaders of the seven wealthiest nations — which collectively produce a quarter of the world’s emissions — agreed that to meet change targets, support for fossil fuels needs to be discontinued.
Here’s what we learned this week:
1. Can we achieve a zero-emission society?
The New York Times reports that projects using technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions will be spared the funding cuts by the G7 agreement, helping to achieve an “overwhelmingly decarbonized” electricity sector by the end of the decade. It’s a major step in a transition to wind, solar and other energy options that do no produce “planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions,” the Times reports.
Throughout recent months, the Deseret News has peeled back the layers of what it means to have a zero emissions economy — Biden’s goal by no later than 2050 — and what policy ramifications have to be taken into account, as well as why it is critical the United States pursue this green agenda in an environmentally sustainable way.
Clean energy technology, as reported, is heavily dependent on minerals, meaning the U.S. must position itself to make sure it has a safe, reliable supply independent of foreign sources, government officials have said.
Utah has a robust number of solar farms, a wind corridor in Beaver County, as well as geothermal resources. It also boasts mining deposits of copper and uranium, and is the largest supplier of beryllium ore from the Spor Mountain area. And, a process is in place to extract tellurium — in high demand for its use in solar cells — from the Bingham Canyon Mine in Salt Lake County later this year.
When it comes to cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements, however, the world’s top three producers control over three-quarters of the global output. China dominates the market globally for rare earth elements and for mineral processing, and according to the International Energy Administration, it has banned exports of rare earth elements.
2. Ending economic dependence on China
The group discussed China’s grip on economies throughout the globe and agreed it needs to end.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney co-sponsored an amendment that calls for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics in light of ongoing human rights abuses, including the Uyghur genocide. He headed the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and has also urged an economic boycott of the Olympics in Beijing, which was not included in the legislation.
Other members of Utah’s delegation have also called on the United States to wean itself from its dependency on China for critical minerals necessary in the manufacturing of clean energy technology and the export of rare earth elements.
Renewables such as solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries are a cornerstone of Biden’s climate change agenda, which calls for reaching a net zero emissions economy by 2050.
But Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, has emphasized that there is not a way to reach that goal to cutting emissions unless the United States is willing to mine its own resources domestically.
3. Getting back to democracy
The summit marked the first time world leaders have met in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — a return to diplomacy, of sorts, according to the Time, with leaders of major nations vowing to work together on issues.
Biden’s attitude of willingness to work with other countries was welcomed.
As reported in the Times article, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told reporters at the end of the summit a more traditional American foreign policy has returned after four years of President Donald Trump’s approach to international alliances.
“Joe Biden being elected to the White House doesn’t mean the world doesn’t have any problems any more,” she said. “But we can now look for solutions to these problems with more zest, and I think that it was great that, at this G7, we were able to make things more concrete,” the Times reported
To cap it off, Biden and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed an amended version of the Atlantic Charter, which originally outlined the relationship between the U.S. and U.K. following World War II.
The amendment shows the commitment of both leaders in moving forward for the sake of progress, including the protection of democratic values, the rule of law as well as individual rights. The two nations aim to preserve biodiversity and nature and also to join together to help in times of health crises, such as the ongoing pandemic.
The nations pledged to donate COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries.