Politicians on hot coals and Pokemon protests – Day four of Cop26

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The fourth day of the conference hoped to sound the death knell of coal, while experts warned the future is bleak unless we rapidly step up efforts to adapt to climate change.

Meanwhile, climate activists said they are getting fed up of being fobbed off with a pat on the head and Pikachu piled pressure on Japan.

– Coal ‘no longer king’

More than 40 countries have agreed to end all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally, and transition rapidly to clean energy.

Among the nations to sign up the statements are 18 that have never made a similar pledge, including Poland, Vietnam and Chile.

Cop26 president Alok Sharma said the agreement was proof “coal is no longer king”, adding: “I am pleased to say that coal financing has been well and truly choked off.”

But it is far from a perfect picture, with big coal users such as China and the US failing to back the plan, and with no measures yet in place to eliminate other fossil fuels like oil and gas.

Eggborough Power Station demolition
Alok Sharma said Cop26 is helping to “choke off” coal (Peter Byrne/PA)

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said: “Any progress towards powering past coal is welcome, but glaring gaps remain.”

– Floods of cash needed to adapt to climate change

The cost of projects to protect countries from the rise in floods, wildfires, typhoons and other extreme weather is between five and 10 times are than the money currently being spent.

Research by the UN Environment Programme (Unep) found the cost could hit 140 billion and 300 billion dollars (£102 billion to £220 billion) for developed countries by 2030.

For developing nations this rises to between 280 billion and 500 billion dollars (£205 billion to £367 billion) by the middle of the century.

Autumn weather Oct 31st 2021
The UN has said it is time to ramp up spending on adaptation to extreme weather (Nick Potts/PA)

Inger Andersen, executive director of Unep, said: “We need a step change in adaptation ambition for funding and implementation to significantly reduce damages and losses from climate change.

“And we need it now.”

– Pressure from Pikachu

The Japanese delegations came under fire from one of their most famous exports after protesters dressed as the Pokemon character Pikachu gathered outside the conference centre.

The demonstrators called for Japan to end its support for coal power, and carried a banner reading: “Japan, time to end coal”.

Cop26 – Glasgow
Pikachu protesters in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)

Japan has so far failed to sign up to the declaration to phase out coal power.

– Stop calling us “inspiring” and step up, activist tell politicians

Activists at the forefront of the climate change movement say world leaders are using false praise to pass the buck of solving global warming on to young people.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and fellow campaigners Vanessa Nakate and Leah Thomas said being called “inspiring” is now just empty words at an event hosted by the New York Times.

Ms Nakate, a climate activist from Uganda, said: “I think almost every activist has been called inspiring, and almost every activist has been told that they’re going to change the world.

“But I think that when leaders do that, they are giving us the responsibility to save the world.”

She said she was “sending back the responsibility to them”, adding: “I don’t really buy when leaders praise young people for activism.”

– Alok Sharma will not be upstaged

Alok Sharma played down the possibility drama in Westminster would overshadow any breakthroughs made on the climate at Cop26.

When asked how he felt about “the entire media” focusing on the scandal around efforts to replace the standards watchdog in the House of Commons, he replied: “If you look, this room is pretty full of journalists.”

Cop26 – Glasgow
Alok Sharma insists that Cop26 is still the biggest story in town despite drama in Westminster (Christopher Furlong/PA)

He added: “There is obviously a big interest and a big focus on this, look at the news bulletins, there is a big focus on what is going on here.”

Mr Sharma said: “It is important and I think the media quite rightly recognises that, and I think the world recognises that, what we are trying to agree here is potentially going to be game-changing in terms of keeping 1.5C within reach.”

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