COP26: China and India pushed for a compromise to weaken climate pledges 

Signatory countries agreed just to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal

15 November 2021

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the COP26 climate summit closed on Saturday night with an agreement. The Glasgow Climate Pact is the first climate package to explicitly reference coal, the biggest environmental threat. The deal, which was backed by 197 nations, also requests to accelerate reductions in carbon emissions and urges developed countries to increase their finance in order to help developing countries adapt to climate impacts.

A commitment to phase out coal was introduced in an earlier draft. Still, a last-minute intervention by India and China pushed for a weakening of language from “phase out” to “phase down”. According to participants, India, the world’s third-largest emitter, proposed the change in an oral amendment, which was backed by China and other coal-dependent nations, despite vocal protests from other countries.

In the end, the agreement was adopted with deep reluctance especially the Pacific islands countries that are facing the threat of rising sea levels due to global warming.COP26 President Alok Sharma described the new Glasgow Climate Past as a “fragile win” and urged China and India to “explain actions to climate-vulnerable countries.”

Despite widespread disappointment over the last-minute failure over coal, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission welcomed the deal, saying that the agreement  “is a step in the right direction.” The same view was expressed by WWF, the global conservation organization. “We must acknowledge that progress was made. There are now new opportunities for countries to deliver on what they know must be done to avoid a climate catastrophe” said WWF.