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04.11.2021

End of coal in sight at COP26

5 minute read

  • At least 23 countries have made new commitments today to phase out coal power, including five of the world’s top 20 coal power-using countries
  • Major international banks commit to effectively end all international public financing of new unabated coal power by the end of 2021
  • At least 25 countries and public finance institutions commit to ending international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022
  • Boost comes as overall a 190-strong coalition agrees to phase out coal power and end support for new coal power plants thanks to a package of support from the UK and international partners

Coal is being consigned to history today at COP26, as countries, banks and organisations move away from the single biggest contributor to climate change.

A just transition to clean energy and the rapid phase-out of coal has been at the heart of the COP26 Presidency as part of its efforts to minimise temperature rises in line with the Paris Agreement. The breadth of commitments in Glasgow today at Energy Day signal the world is moving towards a renewable future.

At least 23 nations made new commitments to phase out coal power, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Poland, South Korea, Egypt, Spain, Nepal, Singapore, Chile and Ukraine.  In a new ‘Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement’, countries also committed to scaling up clean power and ensuring a just transition away from coal.  

Today’s announcements follow a collapse in the financing of coal, as developed nations have pledged new support to help developing countries make the transition to clean energy. 

Banks and financial institutions also made landmark commitments at COP26 today to end the funding of unabated coal, including major international lenders like HSBC, Fidelity International and Ethos. 

This follows recent announcements from China, Japan and South Korea to end overseas coal financing which now means all significant public international financing for coal power has effectively ended.

In addition, a group of 25 countries including COP26 partners Italy, Canada, the United States and Denmark together with public finance institutions have signed a UK-led joint statement committing to ending international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022 and instead prioritising support for the clean energy transition. 

Collectively, this could shift an estimated $17.8 billion a year in public support out of fossil fuels and into the clean energy transition. Developing countries including Ethiopia, Fiji and the Marshall Islands offered their support, signalling growing unity. This is an inclusive agenda that must recognise the development and energy needs of all economies.

This is a historic step. It is the first time a COP presidency has prioritised this issue and put a bold end date on international fossil fuel finance. COP26 has set a new gold standard on the Paris Alignment of international public finance and sends a clear signal for private investors to follow.

Today, 28 new members also signed up to the world’s largest alliance on phasing out coal. The Powering Past Coal Alliance, launched and co-chaired by the UK and Canada. New members include Chile and Singapore, joining more than 160 countries, sub-nationals and businesses. 

And 20 new countries, including Vietnam, Morocco and Poland committed to building no new coal plants, matching similar announcements over the past year by Pakistan, Malaysia and the Philippines, and building on the No New Coal Power Compact launched in September by Sri Lanka, Chile, Montenegro and European partners.

There has been a 76% drop in the number of new coal plants planned globally over the last six years since the Paris Agreement was adopted. This equates to the cancellation of more than 1000GW of new coal plants.

In separate announcements, major emerging economies today took significant steps to move from coal to clean power. India, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Africa announced partnerships with the Climate Investment Funds to accelerate their transitions away from coal power, backed by a dedicated $2 billion facility. Indonesia and the Philippines announced pioneering partnerships with the Asian Development Bank to support the early retirement of coal plants. 

These followed the ground-breaking $8.5 billion deal to support South Africa’s just transition to clean energy announced at the World Leaders Summit on Tuesday.

COP26 President, Alok Sharma said:

From the start of the UK’s Presidency, we have been clear that COP26 must be the COP that consigns coal to history.  With these ambitious commitments we are seeing today, the end of coal power is now within sight.

Securing a 190-strong coalition to phase out coal power and end support for new coal power plants and the Just Transition Declaration signed today, show a real international commitment to not leave any nation behind.

Together we can accelerate access to electricity for more than three quarters of a billion people who currently lack access, consigning energy poverty to history as we create the clean power future needed to keep 1.5 alive.

Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champions said: ​​

With 80% growth in their capacity commitment—from 25 to 45 gigawatts of electrolysis—in one year, the Green Hydrogen Catapult and its members demonstrate the near-term potential for exponential growth in green hydrogen, enabled by local and global policy support and rapidly growing customer interest.

It is fantastic to see the ambition in renewables deployment, with Race to Zero members committing to reaching over 750GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030. This will only grow as more energy companies join the Race to Zero emissions, and decarbonisation ambitions continue to increase, reflecting the exponential progress we have seen to date in the sector.

Other announcements on Energy Day included:

  • A strategic partnership between the Energy Transition Council and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP). The GEAPP, announced on 2 November with $10 billion funding from philanthropies and development banks, aims to deliver clean, renewable energy to 1 billion people in developing and emerging economies and create 150 million green jobs by 2030.  The partnership will include up to £25 million from GEAPP to support the Energy Transition Council’s Rapid Response Facility.
  • Fourteen countries including India, Indonesia, Japan and Nigeria committed to the largest ever increase in product efficiency by signing up to a global goal of doubling the efficiency of lighting, cooling, motors and refrigeration by 2030 with support from the Climate Group’s EP100 initiative of 129 businesses.
  • The launch of the Africa and Latin America Green Hydrogen Alliances with membership from six African countries and five Latin American countries. They aim to kickstart development of millions of metric tons of production of reliably near-zero-carbon green hydrogen to be used in domestic and international industries worldwide. 

Notes to editors

  • The countries committing today to phase out coal power include 5 of the world’s top 20 coal power generating countries. These are: South Korea (5th), Indonesia (7th), Vietnam (9th), Poland (13th) and Ukraine (19th).
  • As part of its country statements, Indonesia signs up to the COP26 Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement, excluding clause 3 but as part of its commitment to reach net zero by 2060, or sooner with international assistance, Indonesia will consider accelerating coal phase out into the 2040s, conditional on agreeing additional international financial and technical assistance with development partners.
  • The South Africa Just Energy Transition Partnership was first announced during the World Leaders’ Summit on 2 November. It could prevent 1-1.5Gt of emissions over the next 20 years in South Africa, equal to three times annual UK emissions. It could set new precedents for supported transitions in other high-emitting coal-using countries, including Indonesia and India.
  • The $10 billion quoted to support emerging economies with the transition includes (1) the South Africa Just Energy Transition Partnership and (2) the Climate Investment Funds Accelerating Coal Transition facility (CIF ACT), accounting for the funding that CIF ACT will leverage through multilateral development banks and private partners. 
  • The $20bn quoted to support developing countries includes (1) the South Africa Just Energy Transition Partnership and (2) the Climate Investment Funds Accelerating Coal Transition facility (CIF ACT), accounting for the funding that CIF ACT will leverage through multilateral development banks and private partners and (3) the new $10 billion energy fund, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet.
  • The UK-led joint statement committing to ending international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector unites a strong group of climate champions, including the world’s biggest economy and major international donor (the US). The signatories are:
    • OECD: Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. 
    • Non-OECD: Ethiopia, Fiji, Mali, the Marshall Islands, Moldova, South Sudan, The Gambia, Zambia. 
    • Public Finance Institutions: the Development Bank of Minas Gerais (BDMG, Brazil), the East African Development Bank (EADB),  the European Investment Bank (EIB), Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

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