EU's von der Leyen regrets Cop's coal compromise

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The "watering down" of language related to coal use is one of the "shadowy" points of the agreement reached at the UN Cop 26 climate summit at the weekend, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said today.

India and China won a last-minute battle to change the language on coal in the cover text of the agreement. The final text calls on countries to adopt policies "accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power", whereas previous drafts mentioned phasing out coal.

"It's disappointing that the coal phase-out has been watered down to a coal phase-down. That happened at the very last minute," von der Leyen said.

She described the Cop 26 agreement as an "intermediate" step towards putting the world on a trajectory to keep global warming to within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels. "On the less positive side is that too few clear goals, steps and obligations were set by the international community," she said.

"Additionally, poorer countries are still not being sufficiently supported by major polluters. More had been promised in Paris. Europe has lived up to this promise, others not," she said, adding that many countries in the world "envy" Europe for its climate and energy policy.

Von der Leyen did however pick out some positive elements of the Cop 26 agreement. "It's good that climate neutrality has been recognised as a common goal and has become the new norm. It's also good that for the first time there is an intermediate 2030 target for the whole world, namely a greenhouse gas reduction of 45pc. There's also the consensus that we have to move faster," she said.

"As we need to move faster, the world is going to meet again next year in Egypt whereby states will formulate more ambitious goals, especially those that did not meet expectations in Glasgow," she said.


By Dafydd ab Iago

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