Glasgow Climate Pact deal struck; nations to reduce coal usage

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Alok Sharma in 2017.
Image: Chris McAndrew.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (often abbreviated to COP26) has concluded with the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact. The pact is the first ever deal struck to explicitly plan to reduce coal usage internationally. Coal accounts for around 40% of the world's annual greenhouse gas emissions and is the highest-emitting fossil fuel in terms of greenhouse gases.

However, BBC News reported that the pledges made still don't go far enough to limit global warming's impact to 1.5 degrees Celsius. According to a 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, the differences between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius are profound. While 1.5 degrees would help mitigate the worst effects, even 2 degrees Celsius would exacerbate the impacts of climate change internationally.

Though it was initially planned for coal to be entirely phased out, India's climate minister, Bhupender Yadav, pointed out that this would not be possible for developing nations where they "have still to deal with their development agendas and poverty eradication". This point refocused the discussion to reduction rather than total elimination at this stage.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said that he was "deeply sorry" for the softening of the pact, stating that it was necessary in order to preserve the deal as a whole. Switzerland's environment minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, expressed her "profound disappointment", commenting that it will "not bring us closer to 1.5C, but make it more difficult to reach it."