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“The end of coal is in sight" says business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

COP26: Day 4 update

On the fourth day of the COP26 summit, the focus was on coal production, with more than 40 countries, including Poland, Vietnam, and Chile, pledging to phase out coal use. The commitment included the intention to end all domestic and international investment in new coal power operations, as well as the intention to phase out coal power by the 2030s for major economies and the 2040s for developing countries. In addition to the countries that signed the pledge, thousands of organisations did as well, including several major banks that agreed to stop financing the coal industry.

However, some of the world's most coal-dependent countries, including Australia, India, China, and the United States, did not sign the pledge, leaving many perplexed. This was a crucial pledge because coal is the single largest contributor to global warming. 

Nevertheless, UK business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng proclaimed that "The end of coal is in sight," and argues that strides are being made in the right direction. However, UK Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband was more critical arguing that there were "glaring gaps" from coal dependent countries such as China, who did not take the pledge. He believed the UK government "has let others off the hook" and should hold large contributors accountable.

Furthermore, with the UK, Germany, and the United States all agreeing to pay South Africa $8.5 billion (£6.2 billion) to transition away from coal use, other countries have expressed an interest in following South Africa's lead. Yet, some critics have questioned whether this is hypocritical, given that many wealthy countries appear to be paying others to do what they are unable to do in their own country.