G20 countries are pledging to cut coal-plant emissions

More than half of the G20 nations have agreed to new global limits on the amount of coal-burning power plants they will let in or regulate. The decision comes at the end of an…

G20 countries are pledging to cut coal-plant emissions

More than half of the G20 nations have agreed to new global limits on the amount of coal-burning power plants they will let in or regulate.

The decision comes at the end of an intense two weeks of talks among nearly 200 world leaders, U.N. climate negotiators and others. The United States is absent from the G20 and other meetings on climate change this week, though President Trump has said he’s devoted all of his attention to fixing the problems caused by coal emissions.

The countries’ two-page agreement expresses “the view that the peaking of global emissions no later than ‘around 2030’ and the phasing out of all existing coal plants should be the core goals” of a global climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year. The so-called “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” released as part of the agreement reiterate their past commitment to reaching “a global peak of greenhouse gas emissions” by the end of the century.

The G20 now gets to make decisions on those two things. Many of those goals appear to remain out of reach, meaning there are reasons to keep pushing for more changes than the G20 has pledged.

But by framing more of the talks in environmental terms, the G20 can help design more effective policies — especially on how to get the massive expansion of renewable energy to the economies of the world. Renewable energy, including wind and solar power, already provides more than a third of all electricity in the United States, according to EIA figures, and that figure is growing quickly.

International negotiations and actions on climate change have gained speed since the United States under Trump has become one of the biggest proponents of coal. The United States wants richer nations, especially China and India, to cut carbon emissions faster, and it is trying to freeze the growth of coal, on top of other fossil fuel production.

Investment in coal has slowed, and a small amount of new power plant construction globally has stalled. Coal will still be a big part of the world’s electricity generation, but at a slower rate than previously expected.

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