Catastrophic Climate Change Cannot Be Stopped If We Keep Using Coal

At the United Nations’ 26th Conference on Climate Change, diplomats for the first time issued a statement that collectively needed to accelerate the phasing out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies to meet meet their climate goals in one draft statement Wednesday release.

Countries can continue to use coal at current levels or limit future warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) target of the Paris climate agreement. Can’t do both. But this scientific fact has been an elephant in the high-level international climate negotiation room for many years – until now.

“It’s very important,” said Helen Mountford, vice president at the World Resources Institute. told reporters. “We’ve never had such a text before.”

However, this new statement is far from final, has no schedule or other details, and comes with some murky country-specific commitments. This coal irrationality represents a central tension playing out at the high-level climate talks in Glasgow: the clear gap between what nations must do to avert the growing climate crisis. seriously, what countries say they will do in the future and what they actually do now.

“We’ll see if that text sticks,” Mountford later said. “We hope it will. It is a really important and concrete action that countries can take to fulfill their commitments”.

Outside of the climate talks, protesters have pushed for the language to stay. According to the Washington Post, they chanted: “”Fossil fuel” on paper right now” and “Keep it in writing.”

Even United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed disappointment with Thursday’s talks, say the national level “Promises will come to nothing as the fossil fuel industry still receives trillions of dollars in subsidies, according to IMF estimates. Or when countries are still building coal plants.”

With current climate policies, the world is on track to warm more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) this century above pre-industrial levels. Even The most updated stories Current commitments to future climate action put the world on a 1.8°C warming trend. This means that even if all countries actually deliver on ambitious promises their best – a big if – we’ll still be 0.3 degrees above Paris’ critical target. This may seem like a small difference, but the science is clear that every tenth of a degree is a disaster for humanity: heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, and wildfires are more frequent and intense; sea ​​level rise higher; and ultimately more suffering.

The science is also clear that coal is bad for the climate. Coal is the most carbon-intensive energy source, responsible for about 40% carbon emissions associated with fossil fuel use globally.

That’s why a growing number of officials say dumping coal is one of the most important steps to take to tackle climate change. Just last week, for example, Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said in Glasgow: “Ending coal power emissions is one of the most important steps we must take to meet our targets. the Paris climate agreement’s target and the 1.5 degree target. ”

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