Since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, which aims to wean the world off fossil fuels, several countries have made national plans to phase out coal from their power supply mix.
The Powering Past Coal alliance brings together many of these countries and others that will commit to phasing out coal, sharing technology to reduce emissions, such as carbon capture and storage, and encouraging the rest of the world to cut usage. Coal is responsible for more than 40percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide.
The alliance includes Angola, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Portugal and Switzerland, ministers said.
The US states of Washington and Oregon, as well as five Canadian provinces, have also signed up.
The alliance, which is not legally binding, aims to have at least 50 members by the next UN climate summit in 2018 to be held in Poland’s Katowice, one of Europe’s most polluted cities.
“To meet the Paris Agreement target of staying below 2°C, we need to phase out coal,” Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna told a news conference to launch the alliance initiative.
“There is also an immediate urgency - coal is literally choking and killing our people. The market has moved, the world has moved. Coal is not coming back,” she added.
But some of the world’s biggest coal users, such as China, India, the US, Germany and Russia, have not joined. The pace of Germany’s exit from coal power has dominated talks in Berlin this week on forming a new German government.
The Powering Past Coal launch comes just days after US administration officials, along with energy company representatives, led a side event at the talks to promote “fossil fuels and nuclear power in climate mitigation”.
The event triggered a peaceful protest by anti-coal demonstrators and jarred with many ministers who are working on a rule book for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to move the world economy off fossil fuels.