Twenty companies join nations planning coal phase out

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for Unilever is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid /File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - About 20 companies including UnileverULVR.L, EDFEDF.PA and IberdrolaIBE.MC joined an international alliance of 26 nations on Tuesday pledging to phase out coal to combat global warming.

At a climate summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, new members of the “Powering Past Coal Alliance” agreed that traditional coal power should be phased out by 2030 in rich nations and by 2050 in other parts of the world.

The coal phase-out plan, launched last month by about 20 governments, widened on Tuesday to companies also including BTBT.L , EngieENGIE.PA , KeringPRTP.PA, DiageoDGE.L, Marks & Spencer, OrstedORSTED.CO , StorebrandSTB.OL and Virgin Group.

Nations including Sweden, Ethiopia and Latvia, as well as the U.S. state of California, also joined the alliance as part of commitments under the 195-nation Paris climate agreement reached on December 12 two years ago.

The companies committed to setting targets to end the use of traditional coal from the power sector, both for consumption and in generating electricity. Coal could play a continued role, for instance, if greenhouse gas emissions were captured and buried.

Founder members of the alliance, launched at U.N. climate negotiations in Germany, include Britain, France, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica and the Marshall Islands

A declaration said that coal-fired power plants produce almost 40 percent of global electricity.

Most of the countries in the alliance are already cutting their use of coal and big coal users, such as China, India, the United States, Germany and Russia have not joined.

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement. He doubts that climate change is caused by man-made greenhouse gases and wants to bolster the U.S. coal and oil industries.

Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Richard Balmforth