Cop26: 190 countries and organisations agree to end coal-fired power

Labour said ‘glaring gaps remain’ in government’s plan to end burning of world’s dirtiest fossil fuel

Daisy Dunne
Climate Correspondent
Wednesday 03 November 2021 22:30
Comments
Cop26: Boris Johnson says climate promises ‘100% useless’ without action

A group of 190 countries, regions and companies will agree to commit to the end of coal power at the Cop26 climate summit, the UK government has announced.

Major coal countries Poland and Vietnam are among 18 nations committing to phase out the use of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel for the first time, the government said.

Coal-fired power is the single largest driver of global temperature rise and ending its use will be crucial to getting the world on track for limiting global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the aspiration of the Paris Agreement.

Announcing the news, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it marked “a milestone moment in our global efforts to tackle climate change”.

Nations agreeing to a new UK-led statement have committed to ending all investment in new coal power generation at home and overseas, the government said.

It added that the pact will see major economies phasing out coal power in the 2030s and the rest of the world ending use in the 2040s.

But a landmark report from the International Energy Agency said that rich nations should phase out coal by 2030 at the latest, with the rest of the world joining by 2040, if the world is to reach net zero. It added that investment in all fossil fuels must end immediately.

Jamie Peters, director of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said: “The key point in this underwhelming announcement is that coal is basically allowed to continue as normal for years yet.

“Some people may hear what the prime minister said at the opening of Cop, compare it to this, and wonder why there is such a difference between words and action.”

Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst for the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, said the news was promising but firmer targets were necessary.

“With well over 90 per cent of the world’s coal use now covered by phase-out plans or net-zero targets...the commitments made at Glasgow have made it abundantly clear that coal will be consigned to history in the coming decades,” he said.

“Given the urgency of emission reductions to keep the Paris Agreement goal in sight, and the heavy burden of air pollution on public health, it is however essential for countries to firm up their targets for this decade.

Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband added that major polluters were missing from the agreement.

“Any progress towards powering past coal is welcome, but glaring gaps remain,” he said.

“There is no commitment from large emitters like China to stop increasing coal at home, and nothing on the phase-out of other fossil fuels.”

He added that the UK’s reluctance to end all new fossil fuel production undermined its efforts to convince other countries to give up coal.

“Whether it’s flirting with a new coal mine or licensing a massive oil field here at home, too often the government has been looking both ways on climate,” he said.

“Rather than driving the ambition we need, as Cop President it has let others off the hook.”

The UK government also announced 28 new members have today signed up to its Powering Past Coal Alliance, an initiative it co-chairs with countries including Chile and Singapore.

In April, the NGO Reclaim Finance accused the initiative of being “not fit for purpose” after its analysis found that many members were still involved in financing coal.

Patrick McCully, senior analyst at Reclaim Finance, said: “We do need to make coal history, and fast. But sadly, this new coalition replicates the failings of the Powering Past Coal Alliance. Put bluntly, the PPCA doesn’t do what it says on the tin.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in