'China And India Will Have To Justify Themselves' – Sharma Swipes After Cop26 Deal

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Cop26 President Alok Sharma (Photo: Sky News)
Cop26 President Alok Sharma (Photo: Sky News)

Alok Sharma said China and India will have to “justify themselves” to climate vulnerable countries after their intervention watered down the Cop26 deal.

He made the comments after fighting back tears on the world stage last night as a pact was finally agreed at the climate change conference in Glasgow.

It saw a dramatic last-minute intervention from China and India to water down the deal to end the use of coal power.

Sharma, president of the summit, was reduced to tears as he apologised to delegates for the way the change was made.

The deal had been due to include a pledge to accelerate the “phase-out” of coal power but it was switched to “phase-down”.

The word change reduces the urgency with which countries are required to reduce the use of coal - the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases.

This morning, he told Sky News: “On the issue of coal, China and India of course are going to have to justify to some of the most climate vulnerable countries what happened. You heard that disappointment on the floor.”

He said overall it was a “historic agreement” they would be “really proud of”.

But pressed on what his feelings were towards those countries who pushed for a last minute change, he replied: “At the end of the day, my job was to build consensus. That’s what I did.

“I ensured that before we actually went back to the podium, I had checked with the negotiating groups, with some of the most climate vulnerable countries, that they could accept the language. And, of course, they reluctantly did so because overall this is really a very good and historic deal.

“But as I said, at the end of the day, China and India are going to have to justify themselves to these climate vulnerable nations.”

A tearful Sharma told delegates last night: “I apologise for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry.”

However, the Glasgow Climate Pact is the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal.

The deal also presses for more urgent emission cuts and promises more money to help developing countries adapt to climate impacts.

The overall deal saw nearly 200 countries agree to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels “alive” or within reach.

Labour’s Ed Miliband said if Glasgow was meant to keep 1.5C alive, it was now in “intensive care”.

The UN’s climate change chief Patricia Espinosa said the goal was “definitely alive”, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We are very far from that goal but we did manage to get together this big package of different decisions that will allow us and gives us very, very specific direction on what we need to work on in order to get there.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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