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Sustainable Business

Ditch coal to avert 'catastrophe', UK's climate tsar says

3 minute read

World leaders must agree to make coal a thing of the past at November's summit or there will be a climate catastrophe due to global warming, Britain's climate tsar said on Friday.

Britain, which is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, has said leaders should go far beyond "hot air" to mitigate the effects of climate change for both rich and poor countries.

COP26 President Alok Sharma, a British minister in charge of preparations for the Glasgow summit, said that in order to meet the global climate goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world would need to ditch coal altogether.

"If we do not act now, the science tells us these effects will become more frequent and more brutal; that we will witness a scale of global catastrophe the likes of which the world has not seen," Sharma said.

"Glasgow must be the COP that consigns coal to history,"

The world's biggest coal producers are China, India, Indonesia, Australia, the United States, Russia and the European Union. China is also the world's biggest consumer, using more than half of the world's coal produced, according to the International Energy Agency.

President Xi Jinping has said he expects carbon emissions to continue rising until 2030.

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COP26 President Alok Sharma wearing a face mask waits to meet Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan April 19, 2021. Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

'PICK THE PLANET'

Sharma, a 53-year-old former business minister, said he asked his daughters what he should say to the world.

"Their response was simple: 'please, tell them to pick the planet,'" Sharma said.

"Since the Paris Agreement was signed. The world has not done nearly enough. "Now, to keep 1.5 degrees within reach, to keep 1.5 alive, we must halve global emissions by 2030. So this is the decisive decade."

Climate activists say the world's richest countries, the biggest polluters and most of the capitalist system are going far too slowly to stop the most devastating effects of climate change, despite grand public pronouncements.

Sharma said all countries should set net-zero mid-century targets. with concrete 2030 emission reduction plans.

"So we are calling on countries to commit to all new cars being zero emission by 2040 or earlier," he said, adding that sustainable finance would be a key focus of the summit.

Sharma said rich countries should respond to debt distress and support the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights process to support sustainable recoveries.

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