40 countries agreed to phase out the use of coal, a fossil fuel that is widely used around the world and releases climate-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The United Nations (UN) Climate Summit, which is being held in Glasgow, was the vessel in which the pact was decided, and many large users of coal signed on.
Additionally, 23 countries promised to end the issuing of permits for new coal plants at home including Poland, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam and Ukraine, according to The New York Times.
Notably, some of the world’s biggest users of coal did not sign on to the pact, including China, India and the United States. President Biden, who attended the first day of the UN Climate Summit, talked extensively on the importance of reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — reduced coal consumption would be a big step towards achieving this.
But back at home, President Biden is having a hard time uniting his party to pass his $1.85 trillion social policy bill that includes measures to reduce carbon emissions in the form of tax credits. Joe Manchin, a moderate Senate Democrat from West Virginia, is notably opposed to many climate change measures in the bill, since he has substantial ties to fossil fuel interests.
Although new forms of energy have slowly started to replace coal, the fossil fuel is still the single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide according to The New York Times, and it will be hard to keep the world from warming more than the 1.5 degree Celsius goal if more countries do not make similar pledges to reduce their use of the planet-warming resource.
The statement by the 40 countries, although criticized as vague by key environmental activist groups, is a step in the right direction that some of the world’s biggest polluters are choosing to ignore.