“This is our moment”: COP26 President Alok Sharma urges nations to end coal power forever

By Climate Champions | May 14, 2021

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma has urged countries around the world to end the use of coal and embrace the opportunities of renewable power in a major speech to mark the six-month countdown to COP26.

Speaking from the outskirts of the Scottish city today, the former UK business secretary said this year’s crucial UN climate summit COP26 will be the world’s best chance of building a cleaner, greener future and “our last hope of keeping 1.5 degrees alive.”

“This is our moment. There are no second chances. Let’s pick the planet…Because if we are serious about 1.5 degrees, Glasgow must be the COP that consigns coal to history,” he said.

The International Energy Agency blamed increased coal use, following the COVID-19 lockdowns, for rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions, despite a drop in use in 2019. The world’s energy watchdog forecasts that during 2021 there will be the second biggest leap in emissions on record.

Sharma also spoke of the need to create “good green jobs” that can support a just transition for workers and communities in the coal sector.

“The coal business is, as the UN Secretary General has said, going up in smoke…It’s old technology. So, let’s make COP26 the moment we leave it in the past where it belongs, while supporting workers and communities to make the transition.”

Sharma also explained how the UK is working towards success in Glasgow. Priorities include, he said, renewed efforts to limit global warming to 1.5C, measures to enable communities and natural habitats to adapt to the impacts of climate change, as well as a push to mobilize increased levels of climate finance.

Increased financial assistance to poor countries will be a key talking point at the G7 meeting in Cornwall, UK, next month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use this opportunity, and his position as chair, to ask other rich countries to provide much more financial assistance to help vulnerable countries cut their emissions and cope with the impacts of the climate crisis.

The UK was the first country to pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. It also plans phase out coal power by 2024 and end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

COP26 will bring together climate negotiators from 196 countries, the EU, as well as businesses, organizations, experts and world leaders at the SEC in Glasgow from November 1-12 2021.

Six years on from COP21, when the Paris Agreement was reached and the world agreed to limit global warming to 1.5C – in order to prevent runaway climate change – this year’s summit will provide an opportunity for countries to commit to the action needed to keep this target alive.

Click here to find out more about the Race to Zero, the global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.