Dozens of countries promise to phase out use of coal, including major fossil fuel users

ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger reports on the commitments made by countries at the COP26 summit to phase out the use of coal-fired power over the next two decades

Dozens of countries have promised to phase out their use of coal, including major fossil fuel users Poland and Vietnam.

The agreement comes during the COP26 talks in Glasgow, where world leaders are meeting to discuss ways to tackle the climate crisis.

The UK government has signalled “the end is in sight” for the fossil fuel, which is the single biggest contributor to climate change.

More than 40 countries have promised to end all investment in new coal power generation and to scale up the deployment of clean power generation.

Major economies will phase out coal power in the 2030s and the rest of the world will phase out the use of the fossil by by the 2040s.

The countries that signed up to the coal-to-clean power transition statement include 18 that have committed to phase out and not build or invest in new coal power for the first time, such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile.

Separately, 28 new members have signed up to the UK-led “powering past coal alliance”, to phase out the use of the most polluting fossil fuel, including Chile, Singapore and Durban.

The COP26 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP26? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP26:

  • US President Joe Biden, climate envoy John Kerry, climate adviser and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and 10 other US cabinet officials.

  • Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. In the days leading up to COP26, Mr Morrison committed Australia to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Prince Charles, Prince William, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge are also attending. The Queen has withdrawn from visiting after being advised by her doctors to rest - she will address the conference virtually instead.

China's President Xi Jinping, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are among the leaders that have decided not to travel to Glasgow.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels - Countries are being encouraged to set ambitious 2030 emissions targets. They are also encouraged to accelerate the phase-out of coal, clamp down on deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

2. Protect natural habitats and communities from climate change disasters

3. Finances for a greener future - In 2009, developed countries were asked to keep to their promises to contribute at least $100 billion (£72.5 billion) per year by 2020 to protect the planet. In 2015, it was agreed that the goal would be extended to 2025.

However, new analysis shows the goal is unlikely to have been met last year and is on track to fall short in 2021 and 2022.

4. Getting all countries and organisations to work together to tackle the climate crisis

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Since the Paris Agreement in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5C to 2C, the number of new coal plants planned has been cut by 76%, the UK government said.

But the use of coal is not falling significantly, and there are increases in countries such as China.

The International Energy Agency warned in May that investment in new coal power plants and mines, and new oil and gas projects, had to be stopped from 2021.

And for the planet to reach net zero emissions by 2050, global electricity production must hit that target a decade earlier, it said.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Today marks a milestone moment in our global efforts to tackle climate change as nations from all corners of the world unite in Glasgow to declare that coal has no part to play in our future power generation.

“Spearheaded by the UK’s COP26 presidency, today’s ambitious commitments made by our international partners demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight.

“The world is moving in the right direction, standing ready to seal coal’s fate and embrace the environmental and economic benefits of building a future that is powered by clean energy.”

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband welcomed the progress but said there were “glaring gaps” such as a lack of commitment from China and other large emitters to stop increasing coal at home – and nothing on the phasing out of oil and gas.

Juan Pablo Osornio, head of Greenpeace’s delegation at COP26, said: “For some countries signing up to this, particularly Vietnam and Egypt, the commitment to rule out new coal projects is significant given the role of coal in their economies.

“But overall this statement still falls well short of the ambition needed on fossil fuels in this critical decade.

“The small print seemingly gives countries enormous leeway to pick their own phase-out date, despite the shiny headline.”

He said a plan to end coal by 2030 at the latest was needed for countries such as Poland and Germany, and a commitment was needed from all governments to end new coal, oil and gas projects immediately.