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Countries pledge to phase out coal use, pulling world closer to climate goal

Nov 04, 2021


COP26 President Alok Sharma announced at the climate change summit Thursday dozens of countries have made a commitment “to end coal investment” and “to scale up clean power”. The commitment is called the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement. The video above shows Sharma talking about the commitment.

“It has 77 signatories, including 46 countries such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile; 23 of which are making commitments on ending coal for the first time,” Sharma said at the climate change summit. One of the goals of the statement is “phase out coal in the 2030s in major economies, and in the 2040s elsewhere”.

Other promised actions include:

  • Scaling up deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures.
  • Ending the issuance of new permits for, the construction of, and direct government support for new unabated coal-fired power generation projects.
  • Strengthening domestic and international efforts to provide a robust framework of financial, technical, and social support to affected workers, sectors and communities.

“I do believe we’re getting to a point where we consign coal power to history. A brighter future comes ever closer,” Sharma said. “We must continue to work together over this vital decade to finish that job. The prize is to keep the Paris temperature goal within reach.”

Speaking of that temperature goal, the head of the International Energy Agency addressed it at COP26 Thursday. The video above also shows part of that address. Fatih Birol said if all pledges to tackle climate change were met, a global temperature increase could be limited to 1.8 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. The goal of the Paris Climate Accords is to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees.

“To keep 1.5 degrees in reach, we need to go much further and we need to go much faster. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook report shows that our currently announced pledges only translate to a 40 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050,” U.K. Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said Thursday. “There is more we can do, and both developed and developing countries need to keep working towards the 2030 and 2040 phase-out dates, respectively.”


Alok Sharma, COP26 President: “Today, I think we can say that the end of coal is in sight. The progress we’ve seen over the past two years would have seemed like a lofty ambition when we took on the COP presidency back in 2019. Who would have thought back then that today we’re able to say that we are choking off international coal financing or that we would see a shift away from domestic coal power.”

“And so today, we are publishing the Global Coal to Clean Power transition statement, a commitment to end coal investment, to scale up clean power, to make a just transition and phase-out coal in the 2030s in major economies, and in the 2040s elsewhere.”

Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President: “Achieving these targets will require the transformation of our energy system at an unprecedented speed and scale. This will include the decommissioning, the re-powering and the re-purposing of coal-fired power stations and the roll out of renewable energy. But our ability to do so will be determined by the extent of support that we receive from developed economies. The political declaration that we announced this week with governments of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as the European Union represents an important breakthrough in this effort.”

Kwasi Kwarteng, UK Business Secretary: “It’s clear to us all that to keep 1.5 degrees in reach, we need to consign coal to history and make clean energy our future. But of course, beyond the climate imperative, there is a green industrial revolution out there, within our grasp, that promises huge economic opportunities for our people and our communities.”

“We must build this low-carbon transition with the people most affected, and also provide ways in which local communities and workers can be involved directly in the decisions that affect their future.”

Alok Sharma, COP26 President: “Today, we are seeing action on coal and it’s at the heart of the energy transition. It has been a personal priority of mine since I took on this role. And thanks to a package of support from the U.K. and our international partners, a 190-strong coalition has today agreed to phase out coal power and end support for new coal power plants. I think we can say with confidence that coal is no longer king.”

“It is uneconomic. The G-20 will end its financing for international coal this year, investors are also bailing out and today, amongst other institutions, NatWest, HSBC, Fidelity International and Lloyds Banking Group are joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance. Countries are turning their back on coal and towards cheaper, cleaner renewables.”

“So, since the Paris agreement in 2015, there has been a 76% cut in the number of new coal plants planned globally – that’s more than 1,000 gigawatts of planned new plants canceled. The end of coal is in sight. In addition, 24 countries including Canada, the United States and Denmark, together with public finance institutions, have signed a U.K.-led joint statement committing to ending international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022.”

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