The G7 group of industrial nations have pledged to phase out the world's use of fossil fuels by the end of the 21st century. The leaders stressed that "deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions" were required with "a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century".
The aim was to send a clear signal to push other nations taking part in December's United Nations meeting in Paris to commit to reducing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, which threaten to melt ice caps and glaciers, raise sea levels and bring more violent storms and floods.
The G7 also reaffirmed the goal of limiting global warming in the 21st century to 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, first agreed at a 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen. "Urgent and concrete action is needed to address climate change," the G7 leaders said in a final statement after a two-day summit in Germany. "We emphasise that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century." US president Barack Obama said "we continued to make progress toward a strong climate agreement in Paris". French president Francois Hollande welcomed the "ambitious and realistic commitments", adding: "We do not have the right to fail."
Environmental groups broadly welcomed the fact the G7 meeting at Germany's Elmau Castle resort had acknowledged that "the days of fossil fuels and carbon pollution are numbered", but criticised members for being vague on the details.
"Elmau delivered," said Greenpeace climate expert Martin Kaiser, adding that at the summit "the vision of a 100 per cent renewable energy future is starting to take shape while spelling out the end of coal".
He added however that "some G7 leaders have left the door open for high-risk technologies, like nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage".
But climate activists said the G7 recognition that decarbonisation of the global economy was needed "over the course of this century" was too slow, arguing it should happen by 2050 instead. "Putting off action until the end of the century will have a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the developing world," said Asad Rehman, international climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth.