More than 40 countries have agreed to phase out their use of coal-fired power, the dirtiest fuel source, in a boost to UK hopes of a deal to “keep 1.5°C alive” at the COP26 climate summit.
Major coal-using countries, including Canada, Poland, Ukraine and Vietnam, are to phase out their use of coal for electricity generation, with the bigger economies doing so in the 2030s, and smaller economies doing so in the 2040s.
However, some of the world’s biggest coal-dependent economies, including Australia, China, India and the US, were missing from the deal, and experts and campaigners said that the phase-out deadlines that countries signed up to were much too late.
The goal of “consigning coal to history” has been a key focus for the UK as host of the COP26 summit, which aims to put the world on track to limit global heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
“Today marks a milestone moment in our global efforts to tackle climate change, as nations from all corners of the world unite in Glasgow to declare that coal has no part to play in our future power generation,” British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng said. “Today’s ambitious commitments made by our international partners demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight.”
Coal use is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions, the International Energy Agency has said, and use of the polluting fuel has rebounded since a temporary plunge in emissions caused by last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
The deal brokered by the UK in Glasgow, Scotland, includes commitments from dozens of developing and developed countries to stop using coal, and more than 100 financial institutions and other organizations have also agreed to stop financing coal development.
The deal came as part of a focus on energy on the fifth day of the COP26 summit, and follows a spate of previous announcements earlier in the week, such as a commitment from scores of countries to halt deforestation.
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