Energy Shift Southeast Asia

Japan, global leaders failed to deliver climate leadership at G7 Summit: CSOs

Southeast Asian civil society groups criticized outcomes of the Group of Seven (G7) Summit as climate-blind and in contradiction to G7 nations’ pledges to support global efforts to meet the 1.5°C ambition.

Leading up to the G7 summit weekend in Hiroshima, civil society groups and communities in various countries staged protests demanding that leaders of the world’s richest nations deliver the leadership necessary to ensure a global energy transition and hasten the phase out of coal, gas, and all fossil fuels. Host country Japan, in particular, was challenged not to use its G7 presidency to promote gas and technologies seeking to prolong the life of fossil fuel infrastructures.

​​To say that the Summit outcomes are a disappointment would be an understatement. A Communique published Saturday endorsed the expanded use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and continued public financing for gas – a move that is a massively backward step from relatively progressive commitments by the G7 in recent years, including restricting finance for coal and setting power sector decarbonization targets.

With this, Japan and the rest of G7 missed a critical opportunity to drive the global energy transition in line with 1.5°C, considering the vast financing they pour into fossil gas and other fossil fuels which they should already be diverting with haste. 28% of all G7 energy finance in 2020-2022 went to fossil gas – an amount that is more than any other energy sub-sector – with the majority going to LNG projects. Japan and the United States were the top supporters of LNG, providing 47% and 20% respectively of all of the G7’s LNG finance. Since 2016, Japanese institutions have served as the biggest financiers of fossil gas in Southeast Asia, where 158 GW of new fossil gas power is in the pipeline as of February 2023. Over 100 MTPA of import capacity is also being proposed.

Southeast Asia has a vast potential for renewable energy (RE) that is only beginning to be tapped. A 2022 report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates a total RE potential of over 17,000 GW across Southeast Asian nations – a potential whose surface we have barely scratched at only about 97 GW of RE capacity installed as of 2021. With the right policies, increased financing, and improvement of existing power system infrastructures including transmission, the possibilities for renewables in Southeast Asia are endless, especially with falling costs of RE today. Japan and G7 as such cannot use promotion of development as an excuse for their fossil fuel addiction. In advancing gas and LNG, they are, in fact, blocking Southeast Asia’s sustainable development powered by clean and reliable energy from renewables, which is already more than possible today.

The G7 statement also contains welcome yet long overdue commitments to accelerate the deployment of renewables, pull together efforts to deliver the $100 billion climate finance commitment, and support in reshaping the role of and coordination among multilateral development banks in ramping up the energy transition, among others. All these, according to the groups, are however undermined by the G7’s promotion of fossil gas, on top of its refusal to commit to a timeline to fully phase out all fossil fuels.

Experts and advocates from Southeast Asian civil society groups issued their reactions:

“The endorsement of increased LNG deliveries and investment in gas in the G7 communique is no mere backsliding – it is a death sentence being dealt by the G7 to the 1.5°C limit and, in consequence, to the climate survival of vulnerable peoples in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and across the world. Unless they genuinely put forward the phase out of all fossil fuels, Japan and all G7 nations spout nothing but lies when they say they have aligned to 1.5°C. They cannot claim to be promoting development while subjecting our people to decades more of pollution and soaring energy prices. We reject this notion of a development powered by fossil fuels. In the aftermath of the G7 Summit and lead up to this year’s COP, Japan and G7 should already be warned that civic movements will not tire in pushing back against fossil fuels and false solutions, and in demanding a renewable energy transition.” — Gerry Arances, Executive Director of Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), Philippines

“Japan and the G7’s support for expanding fossil gas show hypocrisy and their disregard for science. They are betting on planetary destruction and denying responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. It’s time for them to align with global efforts, shift to sustainable energy, and stop profiting from people’s suffering in the water and food crisis. Their profit-driven approach undermines climate action and perpetuates environmental injustice. Japan and the G7 must prioritize human well-being and the planet’s protection.” — Muhammad Reza, National Coordinator of The People’s Coalition for The Rights to Water (KRuHA), Indonesia

“The G7’s endorsement of expanded liquefied natural gas (LNG) use and continued public financing for gas represents a glaring regression from their purported commitment to combating climate change. By backing fossil gas as a substitute for coal, the G7 jeopardizes global efforts to reduce emissions and achieve the necessary transition to a net-zero future by 2050. This move undermines the credibility of their previous commitments and contradicts their supposed support for just energy transitions partnership (JETP) in coal-dependent developing countries. It risks undermining decarbonization efforts, accumulating debt, and squandering financial resources on unnecessary subsidies. This raises crucial questions about decision-making processes and the long-term impacts on the environment and financial stability while cleaner and renewable energy alternatives remain available and viable.” — Andri Prasetiyo, Researcher of Trend Asia, Indonesia