Experts say country’s watering down of fossil fuel pledge reflected its lack of choices
By Hannah Ellis-Petersen
It was a dramatic 11th-hour decision, portrayed as a devastating blow to the success of Cop26.
After pressure exerted by India and China, the wording of the final deal was watered down to a pledge to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal. Alok Sharma, the president of Cop26, was on the brink of tears as he explained what had happened and the last-minute alteration brought sharp words of rebuke from the US and other nations.
While it was China that reportedly pushed hard for a softening of the language over coal in the final negotiations, it was India’s environment minister, Bhupender Yadav, who read out a new version of the Glasgow pact that used the watered-down commitment to a “phase down” of coal. Many speculated that it had fallen to India alone to announce the softening of the language over coal because it was seen as more palatable than an intervention by China.
India was not the first to push for a “phase down” of coal at Cop26. The US and China had already used the “phase down” language in the bilateral climate agreement signed on 10 November.
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