© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of a coal walkway under construction of the planned 1,320 megawatt power plant on the coast near the southern tip of India in Udangudi, Tamil Nadu, India, October 13, 2021. Photo taken on October 13, 2021. REUTERS / Sudarshan Varadhan / File
By Kate Abnett and Elizabeth Piper
GLASGOW (Reuters) – Indonesia, Poland, Vietnam and other nations pledged to cease using coal-fired power plants and stop building facilities on Thursday, but their deal at the COP26 climate summit found no support from China, India and other high-end coal consumers .
Britain has said one of its main goals for the United Nations Summit is “to make coal history history”. Under the agreement, 23 nations made new commitments. The President of the COP26 summit https://www.reuters.com/business/cop, Alok Sharma, said the end of coal was “in sight”.
“I think we can say today that the end of the coal is in sight,” Sharma said at the meeting in Glasgow.
Sharma said at a press conference that turning coal into history was a personal priority as COP26 president and “I think you can say with confidence that coal is no longer king”.
Yet, in their absence, some of the largest coal-dependent nations caught the promise of handing over the most polluting fossil fuel in history.
China accounted for about 54.3% of global coal consumption in 2020, while India consumed 11.6%, according to BP’s global energy statistics (NYSE 🙂 for 2021. The United States, which also did not join the pledge, consumed 6.1%, as the review showed.
Greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal are the main contributors to climate change, and weaning the world off coal is seen as critical to meeting global climate goals.
The signatories of the COP26 agreement have agreed to phase out coal-fired power generation in richer countries in the 2030s and in poorer countries in the 2040s. A majority also pledged to avoid investing in new coal-fired power plants at home and abroad.
Up until the announcement of the deal, the list and the commitments of the countries changed constantly. The absence of China, India and Australia cast a shadow over the attempt to win global support.
A U.S. official said President Joe Biden’s plan to decarbonize the electricity grid by 2035 will reduce reliance on coal, as will infrastructure and social spending legislation that Congress is haggling over.
“I think we will soon have a series of bills that contain $ 800 billion in clean energy and climate programs that will really drive change in the United States, and that is what we are focusing on,” said a senior US official of the Department of Energy told reporters.
US Senator Joe Manchin, a Democratic from the coal-producing state of West Virginia and founder and partner in a coal brokerage company, has spoken out against some climate measures https://www.reuters.com/world/us/democratic-senator- manchin-upends-bidens -hope-reshape-economy-2021-10-27 in legislation.
Some experts said the deal was a step forward. It went hand in hand with an announcement by the Powering Past Coal Alliance, an international campaign to recruit 28 new members, including Ukraine, to commit to phasing out coal.
Antony Froggatt, assistant director for environmental and social programs at London think tank Chatham House, said the announcements were “remarkable for what is missing and what is new”.
“It shows how uneven the transition to clean energy is around the world,” he said.
The pledges are non-binding, and some signatories have stated that they will not be able to get out of coal without financial help from other countries.
“We need funds to shut down coal earlier and build new capacities for renewable energies,” Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told Reuters on Wednesday.
The COP26 summit has so far allocated around $ 20 billion in funding to help countries exit coal, said the UK, which hopes the Glasgow summit will bring enough pledges to meet its goal, the global one Limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. To do this, the world would have to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Britain has largely eliminated coal from power generation, but has yet to decide on proposals for a new coal mine in Cumbria, north-west England, to extract coke for steel production.
The COP26 deal includes power generation from coal, but not its use in industrial manufacturing.
The COP26 summit has so far brought about agreements on coal, deforestation and methane, but a clear picture of what these voluntary initiatives would do in terms of mitigating the rise in temperature has yet to emerge.
A Polish government spokesman said the country’s pledge will end coal use in the 2040s. Poland had previously agreed to stop coal mining by 2049.
Activists called for an earlier end date and firm guidelines to ensure Poland delivers. “Poland must draw up a clear and concrete plan for phasing out coal by 2030 at the latest,” said Joanna Flisowska from Greenpeace Poland.
Britain said it hoped the coal deal, with its first signatories, would encourage others like China and India to join.