WW0 x COP26: Daily Dispatch #4

WW0 x COP26: Daily Dispatch #4

GLASGOW, Nov 4. -- Thursday was "energy day" here in Glasgow and COP26 President, the UK's Alok Sharma, proclaimed "the end of coal is in sight." Forty-six countries have set new or expedited deadlines for phasing out coal -- the world's dirtiest energy source. Twenty-three of these countries just joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, including five of the heaviest users of fossil fuels: South Korea, Indonesia, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Poland.

While this is welcome progress, it comes with a caveat: many of the plans to end coal do not start until 15 years from now, and IPCC scientists warn we must reduce coal-powered electricity 80% by 2030 if we are to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees. Furthermore, major coal producers like Australia, the US, China, India, and Japan were notably absent from Tuesday’s commitment. Protestors dressed as Pikachu gathered outside the UN halls Thursday morning demanding an end to Japan's coal habit, a country responsible for nearly one-fifth of global coal consumption. (Japan has already pledged to phase out older coal plants in an effort to reach greenhouse gas reduction targets, and currently aims to cut the share of coal in the generation mix to 19pc by 2030.)

Union of Concerned Scientists: Everything to Know About Coal (in Under 3 Minutes), January 4, 2018.

Coal pollution is also a critical environmental justice issue across the world. In the US, a Harvard study found that "the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the US public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually." President Biden this week committed to stop financing overseas fossil fuel projects with US taxpayers' dollars. However, protestors were quick to point out that the President has yet to fulfill his campaign promise to end oil and gas leasing and drilling on US federal lands. Protestors greeted US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland ahead of her COP26 appearance, unfurling a banner that read "no new federal fossil fuels." The Interior Secretary approved over 2,100 drilling permits in the first six months of the new administration.

"We're out of time," said Ben Goloff with the Center for Biological Diversity here at COP26. "The president must use his executive authority to halt fossil fuel extraction on public lands, declare a climate emergency, and make renewable energy available to everyone."

EarthFixMedia: COAL (the documentary), June 25, 2013

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency sounded a hopeful note that with the recent enhanced net-zero pledges and Global Methane Pledge "together would limit global warming to 1.8C." But this estimate is based on long-term emissions reductions promises from countries, many of which are on a slow timetable like India who does not plan to reach net zero until 2070. Check out our story for more on this.

The US delegation also announced the Climate Entrepreneurship for Economic Development (CEED) Initiative to connect US companies like Salesforce and LinkedIn with entrepreneurs in developing countries to "catalyze access to capital and expertise." See our deeper dive on the CEED Initiative here.


See our coverage of the previous days at COP26:

Dispatch #3 - November 3

Dispatch #2 - November 2

Dispatch #1 - November 1