Climate change: Why major countries' promise to phase out coal is so important

·2-min read

The fact that eleven major economies have just agreed to stop funding coal-fired power abroad and commit to zero carbon power sectors at home is big news.

It's an exciting milestone in the global struggle to tackle climate change, which is already affecting homes and countryside here in UK.

G7 environment minsters vowed to "take concrete steps towards" ending all new finance for coal power abroad by the end of this year, and to rid forever their own power systems of unabated coal "in the 2030s".

Coal is "unabated" when it is burned without using technology to capture the resulting emissions.

Phrases like "taking steps towards" or promises about an unspecified year in the 2030s do allow a little room for manoeuvre.

But this is the strongest language yet from the group of seven "advanced" economies on ending coal and it was likely hard won.

It's not easy to align enormous economies, especially when one of them is Japan, one of the world's largest financiers of coal and a country scarred by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Environmentalists and G7 members will hope this goal triggers a domino effect of pledges from other countries in the run up to COP26, a crucial meeting in November when global leaders hope to agree ways to stop temperatures spiralling out of control.

And the conversation isn't over yet. Environment ministers will pass the baton to their finance counterparts and then the leaders themselves, who are meeting in Cornwall in June and should drill down on the details.

But the huge missing piece of the puzzle is still climate finance, the mechanism by which high income countries should fund climate adaption and mitigation in lower income or vulnerable countries.

The problem is that so far many wealthy countries have not reached deeply enough into their pockets, missing a target to commit $100bn USD a year by 2020.

And let's not forget that G7 nations are among the biggest polluters in the world. So while commitments are encouraging, environmental groups say leaders must double their climate finance pledges if they are really serious.

Doing this, along with boosting vaccinations in the global south, will be crucial to the success of COP26 negotiations, which will also be hosted by the UK.

The UK, home of the coal-powered industrial revolution, says it now wants to play home to the revolution against coal.

But it will have to put its money where its mouth is, and sharpen up the detail, to help other countries follow suit.

Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.

The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.

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