Nations commit to ditch coal use during climate summit sidelines

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For the first time, many nations that heavily use coal promised to get rid of using fossil fuel or to accelerate present plans to reach the goal. Other countries, meanwhile, committed to stopping investing actions in new coal-fired power plants, AP News reported.

The pledges were done during the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, U.K. business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, which means that the “end of coal is in sight.” However, some of the main economies did not put their target date for cutting their reliance on coal – a huge source of global warming emissions – critics said.

Poland, Ukraine, Chile, and Vietnam are only some of the counties that reset or scheduled their end on coal use earlier, the British government said.

Activists protest against Japan’s support of the coal industry near the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. The U.N. climate summit in Glasgow gathers leaders from around the world, in Scotland’s biggest city, to lay out their vision for addressing the common challenge of global warming. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

The deal was described by Kwarteng as a “milestone moment in our global efforts to tackle climate change,” but “glaring gaps” were pointed out by his counterpart in the Labour Party, which include the insufficiency of pledges for huge emitters to cut the growing domestic coal.

Ed Miliband, the opposition’s business spokesperson, said that no promises were heard to get rid of other major fossil fuel sources like oil and gas.

Major economies including the United States, China, Japan and India have not determined their target dates to stop burning coal.

But so far, the commitments given by some counties during the Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 summit is a sign of increasing drive to get rid of coal use, experts said.

“Today’s commitments will help to shift whole continents on their journey to phase out coal,” according to Dave Jones of Ember, an energy think tank.

“The progress on coal being shown at COP26 demonstrates that the conditions are ripe for a global coal exit,” a senior researcher at another environmental think tank, E3G, Leo Roberts, said. “We now need to see the incoming massive scale-up in clean energy finance made available quickly to ensure all countries can confidently move from coal to clean.”