Belgian chief negotiator says “In time the phasing out of coal will be inevitable”

The Belgian delegation’s chief negotiator at the COP26 climate summit Peter Wittoeck has confirmed that it was at the request of China and India that last minute modifications were made to the text of the agreement signed at the end of the summit in Glasgow. The Indian and Chinese delegation asked for modifications to the ambition to “phase out” coal that was listed in the text.

Mr Wittoeck told VRT News that "However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that there is no question of phasing out. Yesterday, at least I hope, was just too early for India and China to put it down on paper. In time it will simply come about. It’s inevitable if we want to reach zero emissions by the middle of the century”.

Mr Wittoeck went on to say that during the next two years talks will be held to see how rich countries can help developing countries that are suffering the ill-effects of climate change. The fact that no firm agreement about this was reached at the summit led to “much frustration” on the part of developing countries. However, "They say that they were prepared to ‘swallow’ this accord as it is nevertheless an important step forward”, Mr Wittoeck said.

Belgium’s chief negotiators added that he is pleased that the targets and demands placed on the signatories will be reviewed each year. This will be necessary if global warming is to be kept below 1.5°C. “Because what is now on the table will mean that would more likely be 3°C”. 

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