The world needs to ditch coal in order to tackle climate change and save the planet, former UK business secretary Alok Sharma, who is now president for this year’s global climate summit COP26, said on Friday.
In a speech in Glasgow, the city that will host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in November, Sharma stressed the need to end coal power to tackle climate change and noted that the summit is the world’s “best chance” of limiting rising global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
COP26 will bring together climate negotiators from 196 countries, as well as businesses, organizations, experts, and world leaders in Glasgow between November 1 and 12.
“Because if we are serious about 1.5 degrees, Glasgow must be the COP that consigns coal to history… we are working directly with governments, and through international organizations. To end international coal financing. This is a personal priority. And to urge countries to abandon coal power, with the G7 leading the way,” Sharma said.
“The days of coal providing the cheapest form of power are in the past. And in the past they must remain… The coal business is, as the UN Secretary General has said, going up in smoke,” the UK’s climate leader said.
Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a climate meeting that banks should finance low-carbon climate-resilient projects, not big fossil fuel infrastructure that is not even cost-effective anymore.
The UK and other countries in Europe, such as Italy, have already pledged to phase out coal within just a few years. But major energy consumers in Asia, including China and India, are still relying on coal for a large part of their electricity generation.
China—the world’s biggest carbon emitter—even commissioned more coal-fired capacity last year than the rest of the world retired, a report showed last month. Despite China’s commitments to become a net-zero emission economy by 2060, the country’s coal boom in 2020 more than offset the retirements in coal capacity in the rest of the world, leading to the first increase in global coal capacity development since 2015, a report led by Global Energy Monitor (GEM) found.