Cop26: Emotional Alok Sharma apologises as coal phaseout text in deal ‘watered down’

It comes after a key change to the deal on coal, following a proposed revision by India to water down language on coal

Ella Glover
Sunday 14 November 2021 08:50
Comments
Alok Sharma gets emotional as he is 'deeply sorry' for the way the COP26 conference unfolded

Alok Sharma apologised on Saturday for how the Cop26 deal negotiations concluded with last-minute changes on the wording about coal.

The visibly emotional Cop26 president said he was “deeply sorry” for the way the had process unfolded, after India and China forced a last-minute change to the text of the deal agreed in Glasgow on Saturday.

Addressing delegates, he said: “May I just say to all delegates I apologise for the way this process has unfolded and I am deeply sorry.”

He added: “I also understand the deep disappointment but I think as you have noted, it’s also vital that we protect this package.”

The climate pact, sealed after intense last-minute wrangling at the UN conference, recognised the need for cuts in carbon emissions but put off the pledges needed to achieve them until next year.

But in a dramatic last-minute intervention, India and China significantly watered down commitments on fossil fuels, securing the change of a single word to ensure the pact calls for coal power generation to be “phased down” rather than “phased out”.

The move was strongly criticised by several nations at the summit, including Switzerland, which warned: “This will not bring us closer to 1.5C but will make it more difficult to reach it. Critical delegates said they would still support the agreement for fear of leaving Glasgow without a deal.

The representative for Fiji also criticised the last-minute change.

He told the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow: “What we would like to express was not just our astonishment but our immense disappointment in the manner in which this has been introduced.”

He said days before they were warned against making “last-minute” changes to the text and said “due process” had not been followed.

Despite criticism, the deal is a landmark of sorts in that it is the first explicit mention of fossil fuels in a UN climate agreement.

The deal aims to keep limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels “alive” or within reach, in the face of a huge gap between the action countries are taking and what is needed to meet the goal.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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