The Eggborough power station is just one of 14 coal plants the United Kingdom has laid to rest over the past decade. In 2012, 40% of the UK’s power came from coal. By 2020, it was below 2%. Last year, the country went for 67 days without using any coal for power at all.
Climate leaders at the COP26 talks in Glasgow, Scotland, will on Thursday intensify their efforts to put an end date on the use of coal, the biggest single contributor to the climate crisis.
At the G20 meeting in Rome over the weekend, leaders failed to specify how they would phase out coal. It will be a tough ask to convince developing countries to go further than the rich world.
Belgium, Austria and Sweden are among a growing number of European countries that no longer use coal to generate electricity. In the US, which technically has no coal phaseout plan, coal has wound down dramatically in favor of natural gas, which emits about half the carbon dioxide. A slow but steady increase in wind power is also helping put coal out of business.
For every Belgium, Austria and Sweden there is a China, India, and Indonesia, where coal is still king. Consigning coal to history is a requirement to rein in rapid climate change, but it may not happen as quickly as Western climate leaders may like.
Yet Alok Sharma, the British lawmaker chairing COP26, is hopeful it can still happen.
The G20 did agree to stop financing international coal projects by the end of the year, he pointed out. China made a similar commitment in September, which removed the biggest source of international coal financing on the planet.
“This has effectively ended public finance for overseas coal projects,” Sharma told CNN.
“To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, all countries need to raise their ambition and act urgently to consign coal to history.”
Despite all this progress, a true global transition from coal will only happen when China decides.
China consumes more coal than the rest of the world combined
It was in China that the world saw the first large-scale coal mine as we know…