Boris Johnson claimed last night’s Cop26 agreement “sounded the death knell for coal power” amid criticism the deal did not go far enough.
The prime minister gave an upbeat speech defending the climate change conference but saying his delight was “tinged with disappointment”.
He described it as a “game-changing” agreement but said it would be a mistake to think we had “cracked” the problem of climate change.
It comes after a pact was finally agreed in Glasgow which saw a dramatic last-minute intervention from China and India to water down the deal to end the use of coal power.
The prime minister said most of Western Europe and North America have been persuaded to pull the plug on financial support for all overseas fossil fuel projects by this time next year, adding: “When you add all that together, it is beyond question, Glasgow has sounded the death knell for coal power.”
Sharma, president of the summit, said this morning that India and China would have to “justify themselves” to climate vulnerable countries.
Last night he was reduced to tears as he apologised to delegates for the way the change was made.
The agreement had been due to include a pledge to accelerate the “phase-out” of coal power but it was switched to “phase-down”.
The word change reduces the urgency with which countries are required to reduce the use of coal - the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases.
Johnson said: “We can lobby, we can cajole, we can encourage, but we cannot force sovereign nations to do what they do not wish to do. It’s ultimately their decision to make and they must stand by it.”
However, the Glasgow Climate Pact is the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal.
The deal also presses for more urgent emission cuts and promises more money to help developing countries adapt to climate impacts.
The overall deal saw nearly 200 countries agree to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels “alive” or within reach.