Death knell for coal: Almost 200 countries and groups sign pledge to phase out the fossil fuel in major new climate agreement… but China and Russia are not on board
- China has refused to make any commitment to reduce its reliance on coal power
- 40 countries have committed to end investment in new coal powered plants
- Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng described the deal as a ‘milestone moment’
- The UK is considering a new coal plant in Cumbria for use in the steel industry
Ministers claimed the ‘end of coal’ was in sight last night after unveiling a major new agreement to phase it out – but they failed to win any movement from big polluters like China.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said 190 world leaders and bodies had agreed to stop using coal power and would end funding for new plants.
And the UK, USA, Poland, Vietnam, Egypt, Chile and Morocco were among more than 40 countries who signed up to a separate commitment to end investment in coal power plants at home and abroad.
Mr Kwarteng said it represented a ‘milestone moment’ and that coal had ‘no part to play’ in future power generation.
China has refused to commit to reducing its reliance on coal power after President Xi snubbed the Cop26 meeting in Glasgow
The new commitments did not include major polluters like China, India, Russia and Brazil, pictured an open-pit coal mine in Ordos, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China
But, crucially, the new commitments did not include major polluters like China, India, Russia and Brazil.
Britain’s two coal power plants are already due to be decommissioned by 2024. The UK is still considering plans to build a new coal power plant in Cumbria and awaiting the report from a public inquiry, but it would be for steel production rather than energy, so is not covered by the deal.
The coal agreement came as:
- Thousands of delegates came to Cop26 in private jets, prompting warnings that it was turning into an ‘extravagant eco-jolly’.
- Banks revealed that future bonuses could be linked to green targets.
- Cop26 president Alok Sharma took a swipe at China as he said countries that hadn’t shown up for the summit had failed to show leadership.
- Mr Sharma told delegates they were the ‘new Swampys’ in reference to the veteran environmental protester.
- A major study suggested the world’s climate change pledges could limit warming to 1.9C on current estimates.
Meanwhile, ministers hailed their success in bringing together countries and organisations to sign up to the ‘Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement’.
This requires signatories to meet four major pledges, including ending investment in coal power plants domestically and internationally, increasing the use of green power, and phasing out coal power in major economies in the 2030s and for other countries in the 2040s.
The development comes after the G20 group of the biggest economies agreed to end the funding of international coal power plants abroad.
China, Japan and Korea, the three largest public financiers of coal, committed to end overseas financing of coal generation by the end of 2021.
President Xi Jinping, pictured, did not attend the Cop26 meeting of world leaders in Glasgow
But there were no agreements on ending the use of domestic coal power, with Australia, China, India and Russia all said to have refused to move. Coal is the biggest single contributor to climate change and its eradication as a source of power is one of Boris Johnson’s main ambitions for Cop26.
Of the two remaining coal power stations in the UK, one had to be fired up in September to relieve pressure on the national grid. But they are still due to be taken out of service in three years’ time..
Mr Kwarteng said: ‘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.
‘Spearheaded by the UK’s Cop26 presidency, today’s ambitious commitments made by our international partners demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight.
‘The world is moving in the right direction, standing ready to seal coal’s fate and embrace the environmental and economic benefits of building a future that is powered by clean energy.’
But Ed Miliband, Labour’s business spokesman, said: ‘Any progress towards powering past coal is welcome, but glaring gaps remain.
‘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.
‘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.’
Ministers also announced that 60 – more than half – of the Stock Exchange’s FTSE100 companies have now made a commitment to achieving net zero carbon use by 2050 by signed up to the United Nation’s Race to Zero campaign.