G7 performance on climate change
G7 Summit

G7 performance on climate change

The G7’s compliance with its climate commitments is on par with its average overall compliance, meaning there’s room for improvement, and measures from timelines to stronger support for international climate laws could have an impact

In June 2024, G7 leaders meet in Apulia to discuss exceptionally pressing global challenges. On their menu of crises to manage, climate change is sandwiched between security, artificial intelligence, partnership with Africa and much more. The planet’s climate system is of paramount importance in governing all these issues. Climate imbalance adds more unpredictability, uncertainty and severity to every Sustainable Development Goal, by reducing resilience and creating negative and irreversible domino effects. 

As a group of like-minded democratic members, the G7 must strengthen its action, by mainstreaming climate change throughout all its ministerial meetings and putting full, urgent effort behind all three pillars of the United Nations Paris Agreement – mitigation, adaptation and finance. 


Throughout its history, the G7 has governed climate change in its own right, while deferring to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Conferences of the Parties as the central global leader on the subject. The G7’s initial moves towards renewable energy were motivated by a desire for energy independence in the wake of the global oil crises of the 1970s, acknowledging climate co-benefits. 

In the first phase, from 1979 to 2004, the G7 dedicated an average of just 2% of its communiqués to climate at each summit. In the second phase, from 2005 to 2023, it rose to 11%. It grew consistently in 2021 to 19%, in 2022 to 25% and in 2023 to 35% – the highest ever. 


Since 1975, the G7 has made 484 climate commitments, or 7% of its total commitments. From 1979 to 2004, it averaged 5% per summit. From 2005 to 2023, it rose to 9%. 

In the last three years, although higher, there was a declining trend. In 2021, climate commitments took 13%, in 2022 took 11% and in 2023 took 8%. However, by total number, these last three years had the most climate commitments made, with each summit since 2021 breaching 50, setting a record. The only other time the G7 made more than 50 climate commitments was in 2008. 


Compliance with the 104 core and related climate commitments assessed by the G7 Research Group averages 77%. This is on par with the G7’s 77% average with all 704 assessed commitments across all subjects. 

From 1979 to 2004, climate compliance averaged 72%. From 2005 to 2022, it rose to 77% – a disproportionately small rise relative to the much larger rise in climate risk. However, from 2015 when the UN’s Paris Agreement was signed until 2022, compliance averaged 80%. By December 2023, climate compliance from the 2023 Hiroshima Summit had reached 91%. 

Causes and corrections

With the climate crisis now at hand, how can the G7 strengthen its performance?

Data suggest that surrounding summit support from UN climate conferences and international climate law positively affect G7 climate compliance. Commitments with such references average 77%, the highest of any measured catalyst. 

Internal institutional support is also key. Summits with a pre-summit climate/environment ministerial meeting average 78%, which is 10% higher than those without. 

Next are timelines: commitments with a one-year or multiyear timeline average 76% and 75% compliance, respectively. Commitments with a numerical target average 73%. 

The lowest compliance is with climate finance commitments at 69%. This is followed by commitments referencing a specific country or region at 52%, or a regional organisation at 50%.

Thus, to improve its climate compliance, the G7 should strengthen its support for a successful UNFCCC process and for stronger international climate laws through the UNFCCC. To fully implement such agreements, namely the Paris Agreement, the G7 must fully comply with its standing climate finance commitments, and further commit to generate the trillions of dollars needed to stop the growth of global fossil fuel emissions. Each G7 member should commit to dedicate 2% of its gross domestic product to climate security, as it does on other defence measures through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The G7 should create certainty for the private sector to unlock more money. But it must also hold fossil fuel corporations politically, socially and legally responsible for the harmful and destructive impacts of their coal, oil and gas products, starting by creating accountability for the spread of climate disinformation and ending government funding in the form of direct and indirect subsidies, which could fund the above recommended 2% climate security goal.

The G7 should always hold a pre-summit environment and climate ministerial meeting, and galvanise its finance, foreign, health and other ministers to mainstream climate change throughout their agendas. 

There is also the question of whether the G7 should avoid singling out any one country or region, as this may be perceived as negative. Yet it is critical that the G7 supports least developed and low-income countries so they can build resilience and meet their climate targets. The G7 should reframe its country- and region-specific commitments in ways that account for its members’ historical emissions and show strong support for such initiatives as the UN-led Loss and Damage Fund. 

Finally, the G7 should also make more commitments with specific targets and short-term timelines and accountability mechanisms, in order to meet its longer-term goals required to keep the global average temperature rise to the liveable level of 1.5°C.