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Saying goodbye to coal

COP26 has sent out a clear message: Coal has no future. Germany wants to be among those pioneering the energy transition. 

Applause at the end of the UN Climate Change Conference
Applause at the end of the UN Climate Change Conference © dpa

Representatives of around 200 countries spent two weeks at the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow wrangling over ways to halt global warming. At the end of the conference, one of the signals sent out by their governments was that coal-fired power should end worldwide. We present an overview of the decisions taken at Glasgow and Germany’s role:

Clear targets – with pressure to implement them

Back in 2015, the community of states agreed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees as compared with the pre-industrial era. This target is to remain in place – and to achieve it, countries are already to improve their existing climate targets in 2022. This is to help accelerate the pace of climate protection, for the coming years are regarded as crucial in the fight against climate change. The Glasgow declaration also stipulates that global emissions of climate-harmful greenhouse gases must be reduced by 45 percent in the 2020s if the 1.5 degree target is to be reached.

Global phase-out of coal

The call for coal to be phased out worldwide is seen as the central result of COP26. “Inefficient” subsidies for oil, gas and coal are to be removed. However, the wording was weakened at the last minute due to pressure from China and India. Germany’s Environment Minister Svenja Schulze expressed satisfaction nonetheless: “The age of fossil fuels is coming to an end, and the energy transition will serve as an example worldwide. I would have liked the statements about the phase-out of coal to be more unequivocal, but the path has now been set and will be irreversible.” Schulze called for “genuine progress to be made with wind turbines, solar power, electricity grids, charging stations, forests, moors and green steel factories.”

Financial support for poorer countries

It is often the poorer countries that are hit particularly hard by the consequences of climate change. People there are frequently affected by droughts, heatwaves, storms or flooding. Financial aid is to be doubled by 2025: from around 20 billion US dollars per year at present to 40 billion. As one of the biggest donor countries, Germany is currently making two billion euros available so that countries can adapt to the consequences of climate change.

(with dpa)