India pushed the countries to use the phrase “phase down” when it came to coal power rather than “phase out” in the agreement made on Saturday in Scotland.
“We had a choice between whether or not we leave Glasgow with all these other things that we’ve accomplished and whether or not we change a word that says, you know, that still says that we’ve got to phase it down,” Kerry said about the change in language. “I’ll take ‘phase it down’ and fight next year as we go into you know, on through next year to get where we need to go.”
Kerry insisted the deal was good news for the world.
“You can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Kerry added. “And this is good.”
“We are in fact closer than we have ever been before to avoiding climate chaos and securing cleaning air, safer water and healthier planet,” he said later at a news conference.
Many other nations and climate campaigners criticized India for making demands that weakened the final agreement.
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“India’s last-minute change to the language to phase down but not phase out coal is quite shocking,” said Australian climate scientist Bill Hare, who tracks world emission pledges for the science-based Climate Action Tracker. “India has long been a blocker on climate action, but I have never seen it done so publicly.”
Others approached the deal from a more positive perspective. In addition to the revised coal language, the Glasgow Climate Pact included enough financial incentives to almost satisfy poorer nations and solved a long-standing problem to pave the way for carbon trading.
The climate deal compromise is likely to anger environmental activists who have called for drastic measures to be taken at the COP26 gathering in Scotland.
“Unless we achieve immediate, drastic, unprecedented, annual emission cuts at the source then that means we’re failing when it comes to this climate crisis,” liberal activist Greta Thunberg tweeted earlier in the week. “Small steps in the right direction”, “making some progress” or “winning slowly” equals loosing.
Thunberg’s tweet was retweeted by progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Kerry said in Scotland this week that the United States will stop burning coal within the next 9 years.
“By 2030 in the United States, we won’t have coal,” Kerry told Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait during an interview at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. “We will not have coal plants.”
Coal sales are reportedly surging as the price of natural gas, which tends to be a by-product of pumping oil, rises.
Associated Press and Kyle Morris contributed to this report