The Federal Government of Germany has just recently issued its official G7 programme outlining the policy priorities set out for this year’s G7 Presidency. These include several initiatives and in fact promising commitments on mechanisms to reduce emissions and on climate finance. The new German government will not only assert a bold change of course in national politics, but apparently they are willing to put words into deeds. However, there is very little content on how to increase the total shares of renewable energy. In fact, renewable energies are not mentioned even once. Much different actually from the G7 summit in 2015 at the same place of this year’s gathering of governments in Schloss Elmau. Back then Heads of State actually promised to embark on the transition to renewable energy. 
Yet, prospects are promising and expectations should remain high this year. Especially with regard to a potential collaboration with the G20 Presidency of Indonesia who made the global energy transition one of the three main priorities for the G20 in 2022 – next to health and digitalisation. As the subgroup of the G20, the G7 has a huge opportunity for accelerating the deployment of renewable energy and agreeing on truly climate-effective polices.
It is against this background that the German government aims for an open and cooperative dialogue and welcomes the establishment of a climate club – an “international climate alliance geared towards close collaboration that have a strong appeal to other countries globally” to unlock far-reaching climate action.
In Germany, the name ‘climate club’ has faced strong headwinds in the past as a mere ‘club’ would suggest an exclusive character and rather hinder any stirring of a global movement. Especially in times when multilateralism is at odds, it is more vital than ever to make sure that the policy responses are open and easy to join. Therefore, the German Government has asserted an open character of the climate club and pointed out to the multiple benefits that reside in this initiative. As highlighted in the official document, the alliance is thought to maximise synergies powered by international collaboration whilst taking also into account “the interests of those partners who are not yet able to become members at the current time, but which are similarly willing to pursue higher ambitions if they received corresponding support from other countries”. So, what is the role of renewable energy within the climate club? Well it remains to be seen. So far it has been said that the club could help reaching a common understanding for ‘green hydrogen’ produced from renewable energy sources. And obviously, a higher price on carbon makes the megawatts from renewable energy even more affordable.
But it bears repetition: If we do not also remove the barriers these large scale investments into renewable energy will not happen.
Therefore, it is quite surprising to see that the issue of renewable energy – one of the key solutions to achieve climate neutrality, is not even mentioned in the official document of the German G7 Presidency.
As for the G20, member countries host 80% of the world’s total installed renewable power generation capacity, and hold 75% of total global deployment potential of all renewables in the energy sector for the period from 2010 to 2030, as estimated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) members are, therefore, in a position of leading the global renewable energy development and many are engaged in innovative activities to increase research, development and deployment of renewable energy.  We do not need more announcements of countries going net zero, when the majority of the leading emitters remains woefully behind in deploying renewable energy systems. Absolute shares of renewable sources within the G20 is still only at 12% of the overall primary energy demand. Huge potentials remain untapped.
We need to remove ongoing financing for fossil fuels and shift that to facilitating renewable energy investments. We need institutional landing places for all questions related to the energy transition in every country. These can be semi or non-governmental think tanks such as the Agora Energiewende in Germany as well as local and regional energy agencies as change agents for the transition. And a bold commitment of the G20 for a target of 40% renewable energy by 2030 would proof, that governments are willing to lead. 40% would mean a tripling of the existing renewable energy shares. Ambitions but not insurmountable. And in line with a carbon budget.
This being said, we need more than a bold commitment for renewable energy. What we actually need is to maximise the development of renewable energy systems to make the green and just transition a reality. There are many good signs for opportunities at the international level to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy: Whilst many governments are scaling up renewables in their national economies, others have committed themselves to help countries with the energy transition (i.e. The South Africa commitment at COP26 or the ETM by the Asian Development Bank ). These are promising developments which have to be further pursued. Climate-friendly technologies, financial incentives and cross-sectoral approaches are very likely to feed into this.
The group of the 20 largest economies is small enough as a group to agree upon bold goals and global policy responses and their global footprint is so huge that it really matters. The G20 is also a place where the Global South and the Global North perspective come together.
We need to increase our coping capacity both at the local and global level to manage current and future impacts of climate change. The climate club as presented by the German government can be indeed a ‘window of opportunity’ but it requires concrete political actions with regard to increased ambitions, long term strategies and on sustainable finance (carbon disclosure, carbon pricing, Renewable Energy investments etc.). 2022 can be the global momentum to comprehensively harness the G20’s economic and political weight and that of the G7 as their subgroup by providing clear action plans on Sustainable Development, adapting to unavoidable climate impacts, bringing down emission and increasing the resilience of our society.