The world is nowhere near to kicking its dirtiest habit

Never in human history has a ton of coal cost more. Governments and utilities across the globe are willing to pay record sums to literally keep the lights on. That's the bruising reality that global leaders must face at the high-stakes climate talks in Glasgow this month as hopes fade for a deal to end the world's reliance on the dirtiest fuel.

To meet the 1.5C target, emissions from coal need to drop this decade about twice as quickly as pollution from oil and gas, according to Carbon Brief analysis of global emissions-scenarios. Foto: AP/Dake Kang

The burning of coal represents the biggest single obstacle to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5C. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls it a "deadly addiction," and COP26 president Alok Sharma has urged leaders to "consign coal to history."

There's been some progress already - the global pipeline of new coal-fired power plants has shrunk almost 70% since 2015. President Xi Jinping announced last month China will stop building coal-fired power plants abroad, while Germany now wants to end its use of coal by the end of this decade and more than 40 countries have committed to "no new coal." Renewable-energy is expanding sharply...

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