COP26 begins with pledges from wealthy nations to help South Africa phase out coal

November 2, 2021

The United States, United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union pledged to help fund South Africa’s transition away from the use of coal during the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland where global leaders from nearly 200 countries are meeting to outline plans to mitigate climate change.

The $8.5 billion effort to help South Africa move to cleaner energy technology could serve as a model for other developing nations to move away from fossil fuels. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the UK said the initial $8.5 billion partnership would help South Africa to decarbonize its coal intensive energy system. The details of the specific funding were not announced, and diplomats expect the fine print to be worked out in the months ahead.

U.S. President Joe Biden stressed that trillions in public and private funding will be needed to help the developing world move away from fossil fuels.

“By assisting and responding to the needs of developing countries, rather than dictating projects from afar, we can deliver the greatest impact for those who need it the most,” he said.

For its part, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced investment up to $1 billion for the Climate Investment Funds Accelerated Coal Transition Investment Program, through Canada’s international climate finance contribution, to help developing countries transition from coal-fired electricity to clean power as quickly as possible.

Trudeau, also announced Canada plans to phase out thermal coal by 2030 and continue to transition to clean fuel alternatives in an effort to meet its Paris Accord Commitments.

The promise to finance a transition from coal will be noticed by politicians in developing nations because South Africa is among the most coal-dependent nations in the world, CNN reported.

A key sticking point at the COP26 talks is climate finance. There is a Global North-South divide at COP26 over the broken promises of wealthy countries to transfer $100 billion a year to the developing world to aid its transition to low-carbon economies.

The $100 billion target was missed last year and a large gap remains. Experts say $100 billion a year isn't enough to begin with.

Prior to COP26, only a small number of developed nations were paying their fair share on climate financing for poorer countries, according to independent think tank ODI.

While talks continued at the Summit, the demand for coal remained high in light of high natural gas prices.

Peabody Energy reported that it had sold 90 percent of the coal it will produce in 2022 and the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the amount of coal to U.S. power stations will rise by about 20 percent.

In other news from COP26, Trudeau, announced Canada plans to phase out thermal coal by 2030 and continue to transition to clean fuel alternatives in an effort to meet its Paris Accord Commitments.

For its part, Canada said it, “is working toward ending exports of thermal coal by no later than 2030. The ban would follow action already taken, including accelerating the phasing out of conventional coal-fired electricity in our country by 2030, and putting in place investments of more than $185 million to support coal workers and their communities through the transition to cleaner energy.”

“Climate action can’t wait,” said Trudeau. “Since 2015, Canada has been a committed partner in the fight against climate change, and as we move to a net-zero future, we will continue to do our part to cut pollution and build a cleaner future for everyone. Together, we will beat this crisis while creating a green economy and new middle class jobs for Canadians.”



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