Speed Reads

'falls spectacularly short'

More than 40 countries agree to phase out coal, but critics say it's 'not a game-changer'

A group of countries has backed an agreement to phase out coal-fired power, but critics are underwhelmed. 

More than 40 countries including Canada and Poland have agreed to phase out the use of coal-fired power either in the 2030s or 2040s, depending on the country, though the United States and China were among those missing from the agreement, The Guardian reports. Separately, more than 20 countries including the United States agreed end public financing of international fossil fuel projects beginning in 2022, The Washington Post reports

"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," U.K. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said. "Today's ambitious commitments made by our international partners demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight." 

But Jamie Peters, director of campaigns for the environmental group Friends of the Earth, wasn't impressed, telling The Guardian, "The key point in this underwhelming announcement is that coal is basically allowed to continue as normal for years yet." Climate Action Network Europe senior coal policy coordinator Elif Gündüzyeli similarly took issue with the agreement's timeline, telling The Guardian the deal is "not a game-changer" while arguing a "2030 phaseout deadline should be a minimum, and this agreement doesn't have that." 

Global Witness campaign leader Murray Worthy also said the agreement "falls spectacularly short of what this moment requires," as "an agreement that only tackles coal doesn't even solve half the problem — emissions from oil and gas already far outstrip coal." Worthy, who said a "truly ambitious agreement" would phase out coal, oil and gas, described this as a "small step forwards when what was needed was a giant leap."