World leaders at COP26 strike agreement to ‘phase down’ unabated coal and call on wealthy nations to double funding to vulnerable nations

Biden at COP26
Biden at COP26
  • The COP26 conference concluded Saturday with an agreement between nations on how to address climate change.
  • For the first time, the agreement mentioned fossil fuels as a cause of climate change.
  • But a last-minute move changed a plan to "phase out" unabated coal to a "phase down," The New York Times reported.

Diplomats from more than 200 nations on Saturday agreed at COP26 on a path forward to combat climate change and its effects in the culmination of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland.

According to The New York Times, the agreement between nations centered on the idea that the countries would return to the conference next year with more detailed strategies on how they planned to address climate change. It also called on wealthy nations to "at least double" the amount of funds allocated to assisting vulnerable nations in adapting to the changing climate, the Times reported.

The agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support developing nations was reached Saturday, one day after the conference was scheduled to end, after continued divisions between countries.

COP26 hosted around 40,000 politicians, campaigners, and business representatives, including representatives of the fossil fuel industry who outnumbered the delegations of any single country.

According to the Times, the deal lacks the complete funding needed for developing countries to mitigate extreme weather events and to build clean energy infrastructure. The agreement landed on language that the nations would pledge to "phase down" the use of unabated coal rather than "phase out" coal as an earlier draft had said.

"Unabated coal power generation refers to the use of coal that isn't mitigated with technologies to reduce the CO2 emissions, such as Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)," according to the European climate change think tank E3G.

The change was pushed by India, according to Politico. India's environment minister Bhupender Yadav told negotiators Saturday that developing countries were "entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels," Politico reported.

"We do not need to phase down, but to phase out," Switzerland's representative, Simonetta Sommaruga, said, according to The New York Times. "We are disappointed both about the process and the last minute change. This will not bring us closer to 1.5 but will make it more difficult to reach."

According to CNN, the agreement Saturday marked the first time in the conference's history that coal or any other fossil fuel, including oil or gas, had been mentioned as a cause of climate change.

The agreement outlined how the world should work to cut carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gases, including methane, according to the Times. It also included rules to hold nations accountable for making the necessary changes outlined, the Times reported.

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