COP26: around forty countries commit to accelerating their exit from coal

The British government, host of the 26e climate conference (COP26), in Glasgow, had set out four priorities ahead of this crucial meeting: « cars, cash, coal, trees » (“Cars, finances, coal, trees”). After announcements concerning reforestation, it is the “coal” box that London was able to tick on Thursday, November 4th.

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Forty countries have pledged to abandon this mineral to produce their electricity by 2030 for the main economic powers, and by 2040 for the poorest countries. Among them, one around twenty countries that consume large amounts of coal have agreed to accelerate the end of their dependence, including the Canada, Ukraine, Chile, Vietnam but also Poland – yet the bad European student in this area -, which did not schedule its phasing out (its “gradual exit”) until 2049.

The announcement is significant, as coal is seen as the main contributor to climate change. She will help “Keep alive” the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C, a major objective of COP26. Signatory countries undertake to put an end to any new investment, at national and international levels, in new coal-fired power stations, and to accelerate the deployment of their renewable energies. At the end of October, in Rome, the G20 states had already said they wanted to stop public funding for coal-fired power stations outside their borders by the end of 2021.

“The world needs a giant leap”

For UK Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, “The ambitious commitments made by our international partners show that the end of coal is in sight”. This end is all the easier to defend for 10 Downing Street as the United Kingdom has been able to drastically reduce its dependence on coal. The latter only accounted for 1.8% of its energy mix in 2020, against 40% in 2010. At 1is October 2024, no more electricity will be generated by this resource, the government of Boris Johnson has promised. For Leo Roberts of the E3G think tank, “The magnitude of these announcements proves how the abandonment of coal is accelerating.”

Main weakness of the agreement, however: the global coal “heavyweights”, consumers and producers – the United States, China, India and Australia are still missing. China, the world’s largest consumer, has certainly made a commitment not to invest in new power plants abroad, but has promised nothing for those on its own territory. Australia, which still produces more than 50% of its electricity from coal, continues to open new mines. India still generates 70% of its electricity from coal, and has not moved forward on an exit agenda either, although its prime minister, Narendra Modi, has made the very encouraging pledge. that his country would generate 50% of its electricity with renewable energies in 2030.

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COP26: around forty countries commit to accelerating their exit from coal