MORE than 40 countries have committed to phase out coal power, but concerns have been raised after China and other major polluters didn’t join the pledge.

The coal to clean power transition statement has been signed by 46 countries at COP26, including 23 who made the pledge for the first time.

This includes major coal-using countries including Poland, Vietnam and Chile, while 14 major financial private sector and financial institutions, including NatWest, Lloyds Bank and HSBC, also signed the agreement.

Coal is one of the single biggest contributors to climate change and produced around 37% of the world’s electricity in 2019.

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Those who signed the agreement made a commitment to end all domestic and international investment in new coal power generation.

The signatories also agreed to phase out coal power in major economies in the 2030s, and poorer nations in the 2040s.

However, as the world’s biggest polluter and coal user China, along with other major users and producers, have not agreed to join the efforts, there have been warnings regarding the deal.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said: “Any progress towards powering past coal is welcome, but glaring gaps remain.

“There is no commitment from large emitters like China to stop increasing coal at home, and nothing on the phase-out of other fossil fuels.”

The National:

Kwasi Kwarteng (above) said it was a 'shame' China had not signed on to the pledge

However, there were some moves in the right direction such as countries such Poland, which relies on coal to meet 80% of its energy, have signed on to the deal.

Other new nations include Indonesia, South Korea, Egypt, Spain, Nepal, Singapore, Chile and Ukraine.

The countries also committed to scaling up clean power and ensuring a just transition away from coal.

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.

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Meanwhile, 20 new countries including Vietnam, Morocco and Poland have committed to building no new coal plants.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Kwasi Kwarteng told COP26 that there is an “immense sense of urgency” to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and that moving away from coal is key to this.

During a panel at COP26 on Thursday, Kwarteng said: “The global transition to clean power needs to progress at roughly five times the current rate and that’s why we’ve made consigning coal to history, a key aim, a principal aim of this summit.

"We’re asking developed countries to end unabated coal power by 2030 with the rest of the world following by 2040.

“We don’t underestimate the scale of this challenge, but it is achievable.”

He added that in 2012 around 40% of the UK’s electricity came from coal, and that the figure is now less than 2%.

The National:

Damilola Ogunbiyi (pictured), the CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, told delegates that to reach “affordable, reliable and modern energy” by 2030 there has to be a “just and equitable” energy transition.

She said: “The transition must recognise countries where too many have been left behind for too long.

“This means we must listen carefully to what our partners in the developing world are telling us and what they need to prioritise their energy transition.

“We must also heed the call of the UN Secretary General to end coal power, starting with OECD countries by 2030.”

Kwarteng was asked about the absence of China and the US during media rounds on Thursday morning.

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He said: “Well, of course, they’re engaging in negotiations as well.

“The US, certainly under President Biden, is very much behind the net-zero agenda, and has got lots of pledges to reduce natural gas, to reduce methane.”

He added that China has made a commitment not to invest in overseas coal mining and is also looking to phase out coal in its own electricity production.

He said that the world’s biggest polluter had committed to net zero by 2060, a huge change in just a year or so.

Kwarteng said: “It’s a shame they haven’t signed up to the pledge, but that’s something that we’re working on trying to get agreement,”