China and India will have to explain themselves on coal, COP26 president says

Katrina Bishop*

  • The agreement, which is not legally binding, was amended at the eleventh hour after interventions from India and China — both among the world’s biggest burners of coal.
  • This led to a change in language about fossil fuels; the pact now refers to the “phase down” of coal, rather than the “phase out” of coal, as originally proposed.
  • There are fears that a more drastic rise in temperatures will disproportionately affect vulnerable populations such as the world’s small island nations which are already being inundated by rising sea levels.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS | AFP | Getty Images

Britain’s President for COP26 Alok Sharma makes his opening speech at The Procedural Opening of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on October 31, 2021, the first day of the conference.

Britain’s President for COP26 Alok Sharma makes his opening speech at The Procedural Opening of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on October 31, 2021, the first day of the conference.

The president of COP26 said Sunday that China and India will need to explain why they insisted a crucial passage of the U.N.-brokered climate deal was changed at the last minute.

“China and India are going to have to explain themselves to the most climate vulnerable countries in the world,” U.K. lawmaker Alok Sharma, who led the COP26 negotiations, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

It comes a day after nearly 200 countries agreed on a deal to try to prevent the worst consequences of the climate crisis, following two weeks of talks in Glasgow, Scotland.

The wide-ranging agreement, which is not legally binding, was amended at the eleventh hour after interventions from India and China — both among the world’s biggest burners of coal. This led to a change in language about fossil fuels; the pact now refers to the “phase down” of coal, rather than the “phase out” of coal, as originally proposed.

After initial objections, opposing countries ultimately conceded to the amendment.

“Over the past weeks obviously there were certain countries that did not want to have coal language in this compact,” Sharma added.

“But at the end of the day, this is the first time ever that we’ve got a language about coal in a COP decision. I think that is absolutely historic.”

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About Cholo Brooks 15844 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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