Of the more than 100 countries present at the Conference of the Parties (COP26) climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, 46 participants have agreed to accelerate a transition away from unabated coal power generation.
Notably, the US, China and India, which are major contributors to coal power generation, did not sign the agreement. With that in mind, the International Energy Agency has said that the world is not where it needs to be in order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Still, Britain’s COP26 President Alok Sharma said, “Today I think we can say that the end of coal is in sight.”
The transition statement proposes that major economies should strive to rapidly scale up technologies and policies in this decade to achieve a transition away from unabated coal power generation in the 2030s and in the 2040s for other economies, consistent with the climate targets and the Paris Agreement.
Of note, the signatories are not bounded to these commitments. In fact, some have indicated that unless they are able to secure financial help from other countries they will not be able to phase out coal.
In 2019, coal still produced around 37 per cent of the world’s electricity.
The US agreed to end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement.
As part of that arrangement, signatories agreed to encourage multilateral negotiations in international bodies, in particular in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to review, update and strengthen their governance frameworks to align with the Paris Agreement goals.
While speaking at the conference Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness said, “All countries must act responsibly and with ambition to preserve our climate for current and future generations.”
He further argued that “countries that have profited the most from carbon over decades have a responsibility to make resources and technology available to others to adapt and transition to low carbon economies.”
Similarly, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, whose speech went viral, contended that “Failure to provide enough critical funding to small island nations is measured in lives and livelihoods in our communities. This is immoral, and it is unjust,”
To that end, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the launch of the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) facility, a joint initiative with the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and small island developing states (SIDS).
The UK will contribute an initial £10 million to the fund, which will provide targeted technical assistance.