HomeIndustry SectorsEnergy EfficiencyCould COP26 be the one where coal went to die?

Could COP26 be the one where coal went to die?

Almost a week into COP26 and news headlines are still dominated by a slew of new pledges, alliances and commitments.

On the ground in Glasgow, according to Ben Hugues, investment director of Camco Clean Energy, the mood is busy but buoyant. This is partly influenced by the International Energy Agency saying on Thursday that all the promises and pledge being made at COP26 would lead to global warming being kept to 1.8 degrees Celsius.

While not quite the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal, it is a step in the right direction.

“There’s good momentum here. It feels quite positive,” said Hugues. (Watch the video for more from Hugues).

Ben Hugues, Investment Director, CAMCO Clean Energy, reporting from COP26.

The IEA and the UK government also announced that Australia, Indonesia, Japan and Nigeria signed up to their action plan to rapidly improve the energy efficiency of products being sold around the world. The COP26 Product Efficiency Call to Action encourages a range of policies such as product standards, labels and incentives to raise the efficiency of high-energy consuming products.

It focuses on lighting, refrigerators, air conditioners and industrial motor systems which together account for more than 40% of global electricity demand and more than 5 billion tonnes of global CO2 emission every year.

Including these four countries in this initiative makes the total energy savings achievable greater than the previous largest initiative on product efficiency, the Global Lighting Challenge.

Will COP26 signal the death knell for coal?

At least 23 nations made new commitments to phase out coal power. In a new Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement, countries committed to scaling up new clean power and ensuring a transition away from coal.

Banks and financial institutions such as HSBC, Fidelity International and Ethos also committed at COP26 to end funding for coal. With China, Japan and South Korea recently announcing they would end overseas coal financing, public international financing for new coal projects is no more.

28 new members also signed up to The Powering Past Coal Alliance, which makes this emphasis on ending support for coal a signature move for this year’s COP26.

COP26 President Alok Sharma: “From the start of the UK’s Presidency, we have been clear that COP26 must be the COP that consigns coal to history. With these ambitious commitments we are seeing today, the end of coal power is now within sight.

“Securing a 190-strong coalition to phase out coal power and end support for new coal power plants and the Just Transition Declaration signed today, show a real international commitment to not leave any nation behind,” said Sharma.

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Hydrogen strategies put in an appearance

On the practical side, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the World Economic Forum launched a jointly developed series of Enabling Measures Roadmaps for Green Hydrogen. This new toolbox is aimed at empowering policymakers to prioritise measures for green hydrogen and accelerate its deployment at an international level.

The first roadmaps focus on Japan and Europe.

This week also saw the launch of the Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance and the LatAm Green Hydrogen Alliance with membership from six African and five Latin American Countries. They aim to kickstart development of millions of metric tons of production of reliable near-zero-carbon green hydrogen to be used in domestic and international industries. The alliances will collaborate on strategy development, constructing regulations, financing mechanisms and certification.

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Climate finance and net zero investment strategies

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced its intention to double the mobilisation of private sector climate financing by 2025. It set out an Action Plan on Mobilising Private Capital for Climate Finance, which is at its heart focused on policy activities to develop a regulatory environment that makes low-carbon investments commercially viable.

In order to do its own bit to enhance climate action the EBRD will commit to increasing the proportion of its green investment to more than 50% by 2025 and it will align its open operations with the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2023.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry earlier this week launched the Net Zero World Initiative which will be led by the US Department of Energy as part of the Build Back Better World initiative. Through this Net Zero World Initiative, countries committed to raising their climate ambitions will work with US government and DOE’s national laboratories to create and implement roadmaps and investment strategies.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.