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A coal-fired power plant.

Seven countries on Friday pledged they would cease building new coal power plants. (Photo: Shutterstock)

'Coal Is Dead': New Global Pact Announced After China's Bold Step

"Consigning coal to history is crucial to avoiding catastrophic climate change."

Julia Conley

Just two days after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the world's largest coal producer would stop funding overseas coal projects, seven countries on Friday pledged they would also cease building new coal power plants—the latest sign one of the world's dirtiest energy sources is on its way out.

"I call on more countries to come forward and sign up to this compact ahead of COP26, and play their part to limit global warming and keep 1.5 degrees alive."
—Alok Sharma, COP26

 
Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro, Sri Lanka, and the U.K. signed the No New Coal agreement at the U.N. High-level Dialogue on Energy in New York, where officials this week aimed to gather more support for the pact at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.
 
“Development of new coal-fired power plants must stop this year to achieve net zero emissions by 2050," said Dan Jørgensen, the Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities, in a statement. "That is why I am thrilled that we stand together with fellow ambitious countries with the aim to end construction of new coal-fired power plants. This energy compact is an important step on the way for a complete phase-out of coal power and consigning coal power to history at COP26. I encourage all governments to join this very important initiative."
 
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), all emissions from coal power plants—the world's largest source of carbon emissions—must be eliminated by 2040 in order to keep the heating of the planet below 1.5C.
 
The No New Coal agreement requires countries to immediately stop approving permits and end new construction of "unabated coal-fired power generation projects by the end of the year," according to Bloomberg.
 
Noting that the seven countries signed on to the pact following Xi's announcement—which is expected to eliminate 40 gigawatts of new coal power and avoid as much as 235 million tons of carbon emissions—the climate action group 350.org said the agreement is a clear sign that "coal is dead."
 
 
"China’s decision is pretty much the end of public financing for coal,” Chris Littlecott, associate director of fossil-fuel transition at climate think tank E3G, told Bloomberg.
The No New Coal agreement comes four years after more than 40 countries signed onto the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which requires a commitment to phase out existing coal operations as soon as 2030 as well as a pledge to halt construction of new plants.
 
Alok Sharma, a U.K. lawmakers and president of COP26, applauded the countries' "bold leadership to cancel coal through the No New Coal Power Compact, demonstrating the positive impact that countries working closely together can have in generating climate action," noting that transitioning away from coal and towards renewable energy technology has increasingly been shown to be cost-effective as well as vital for the survival of the planet.
 
"Consigning coal to history is crucial to avoiding catastrophic climate change," said Sharma. "The cost of clean renewable technologies continues to fall, making coal expensive and uncompetitive. I call on more countries to come forward and sign up to this compact ahead of COP26, and play their part to limit global warming and keep 1.5 degrees alive."
 
The No New Coal initiative, along with China's announcement, has put countries around the world "on notice," Littlecott said.
 
 
"Governments can have confidence in committing to no new coal," Littlecott said. "The No New Coal Power Compact provides a space for them to step forward together."

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