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Word 'Phase down' of unabated coal adopted by China, US; criticizing India for it 'unfair': Govt sources

Several nations have chastised India for weakening the wording from the initial suggestions, with the final document requiring merely a "step down" rather than a "phase-out."

Phase down of unabated coal adopted by China US criticizing India for it unfair Report gcw
New Delhi, First Published Nov 18, 2021, 8:52 AM IST
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The word "phase down" of unabated coal was not coined by India at the just concluded international climate conference COP 26 in Glasgow, but was adopted by the United States and China, according to government sources close to PTI on Wednesday, adding that criticizing India for it was "unfair." Under the condition of anonymity, the sources also claimed that the word "phase down" was already in the conference document. According to the Glasgow Climate Pact, "unabated coal" should be phased out, as should fossil fuel subsidies. Several nations have chastised India for weakening the wording from the initial suggestions, with the final document requiring merely a "step down" rather than a "phase-out."

According to official sources, several nations objected to the first wording of "phasing out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies," after which an agreement was established among the parties and a new document was drafted, which used the words "phase down" rather than "phase-out." "It was the Chair of COP 26, Alok Sharma, who urged India to present the revised text on the floor," an official said, adding that those condemning India for pushing phase down rather than phase out coal power, the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, were being "unfair."

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On November 13, over 200 nations at COP 26 in Glasgow adopted the pact, which intended to keep the primary global warming objective alive, but with a tweak in phrasing from "phase-out of coal" to "phase down." Another government source stated that the phrase "phase down" was present in the document. He stated that India was not happy with the "phase-out" of coal because the country's peak power load was still derived from coal.

According to the sources, all fossil fuels are harmful. Our issue was as to why coal was singled out at COP 26. Because the United States has moved away from coal and other fossil fuels, they were content to do away with it. This was our issue. However, we did not coin the phrase "phasing down." It originated in the United States and China; India is being accused only for reading out the statement. Sources also clarified that the five national goals announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not be termed as "updated Nationally Determined Goals".

Several countries had also criticized India for "promoting" the transition away from fossil fuels, even as Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, who represented the Indian delegation, asked the Glasgow climate summit how developing countries could make promises about "phasing out" coal and fossil fuel subsidies while still dealing with their development agendas and poverty eradication.

Also Read | Know about Alok Sharma, Agra-born UK minister who chaired COP26 summit

The Glasgow Climate Pact was agreed on November 13, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling the conclusion of the COP-26 "a compromise" and urging efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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