Led by Britain and Canada, nations form the Power Past Coal Alliance to phase out use of the dirtiest fossil fuel — but big emitters remain absent.
A score of mostly wealthy nations banded together at UN climate talks Thursday to swear off coal-fired power, a key driver of global warming and air pollution.
To cap global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) — the planet-saving target in the 196-nation Paris Agreement — coal must be phased out in developed countries by 2030, and “by no later than 2050 in the rest of the world,” they said in a declaration.
The dirtiest of fossil fuels still generates 40 percent of the world’s electricity, and none of the countries that truly depend on it were on hand to take the “no coal” pledge.
One country participating in the 12-day talks, which end Friday, has made a point of promoting the development of “clean fossil fuels” — the United States.
The near-pariah status of coal at the UN negotiations was in evidence earlier in the week when an event featuring White House officials and energy executives was greeted with protests.
The US position “is only controversial if we choose to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the realities of the global energy system,” countered George David Banks, a special energy and environment assistant to US President Donald Trump.
Led by ministers from Britain and Canada, the “Powering Past Coal Alliance” committed to phasing out CO2-belching coal power, and a moratorium on new plants that lack the technology to capture emissions before they reach the atmosphere.
“In a few short years, we have almost entirely reduced our reliance on coal,” said British Minister of State Claire Perry.
The share of electricity generated by coal in Britain dropped from 40 percent in July 2012 to two percent in July of this year, she noted.
Other signatories included Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, and New Zealand.
Germany — where coal powers 40 percent of the country’s electricity — was asked to join, said environment minister Barbara Hendricks.
Read more: https://www.seeker.com/earth/climate/at-un-climate-talks-nations-depart-dramatically-on-the-future-of-coal