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Interim Compliance with Commitments of the 2018 G7 Halifax Environment Ministers Meeting

18 September 2018 to 31 January 2019
John Kirton, Julia Tops, Angela Min Yi Hou and the G7 Research Group
25 April 2019

Download full report here

On May 5-6, 2019, G7 environment ministers will gather in Metz, France, for the 23rd time since they first met in 1992. At Metz, they will likely make many precise, future-oriented, politically obligatory commitments, across several key environmental issues such as biodiversity and climate change. But many observers will wonder whether these commitments will be complied with, once the ministers return home and the normal constraints and rhythms of domestic politics begin anew.

The evidence suggests these promises could well be kept. G7 environment ministers have made 518 commitments since they started doing so in 1995 through to their most recent meeting in Halifax, Canada, on September 19–21, 2018. There was a great gap from 2010 to 2015 when the ministers did not meet. Yet from 2016 to 2018, when they resumed, they made a record number of commitments: 66 at Toyama, Japan, in 2016; 49 at Bologna, Italy, in 2018, and a historic high of 69 at Halifax in 2018.

Yet compliance with these commitments has generally been low. Of the 35 commitments assessed for compliance by members during the year after the meeting was held, compliance from 1997 through to 2017 averaged only 51%. For the Miami meeting in 1997, it averaged 40%. For Toyama in 2016 it averaged 57%. For Bologna in 2017 it averaged the same 57%.

It is important to know if the historically high number of commitments made at Halifax in 2018 are being followed by historically high compliance with them. The G7 Research Group therefore conducted a special study of compliance with three of the key Halifax commitments – those on air quality, on financial tools and on extreme weather events. Compliance was assessed on an interim basis, from the end of the Halifax ministerial meeting through to January 31, 2019, or roughly halfway between the gathering in Halifax in September 2018 and the one in Metz in May 2019. These three compliance reports show the following results.

Interim compliance with the three assessed Halifax commitments has thus far averaged 65% — higher than any measured compliance from G7 environment ministerial meetings in earlier years (see Table 1). None of the three Halifax commitments had compliance in the negative range. The commitment on air quality led with 75% compliance (or +0.50 on the scientific scale where +100 is full compliance, 0 is partial compliance and −100 is no compliance). The commitment on financial tools for climate resilience followed with compliance of 69% (+0.38). The commitment on extreme weather events lagged, with compliance of only 50% (0).

By member, compliance was led by Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union with 83% each. Next came France and Japan with 67% each. At the bottom came Italy with 34% and the United States with 17%.

The full report is available for download here.

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Table 1: 2018 Interim Compliance with Environment Ministers' Commitments

 Country Overall average Extreme weather Financial tools for climate resilience Air quality
Canada +0.66 83% 0 +1 +1
Germany +0.66 83% 0 +1 +1
United Kingdom +0.66 83% 0 +1 +1
European Union +0.66 83% 0 +1 +1
France +0.33 67% 0 0 +1
Japan +0.33 67% 0 0 +1
Italy −0.33 34% 0 0 −1
United States −0.66 17% 0 −1 −1
Average +0.29 65% 0 (50%) +0.38 (69%) +0.50 (75%)

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