Underscoring the vagueness of the pledge, Anna Moskwa, Poland’s climate and environmental minister, said on Twitter Thursday that the deal allowed Poland to depart from coal by 2049. Poland currently gets 70 percent of its electricity from coal and has often resisted European proposals to shift more rapidly away from fossil fuels.
The Biden administration did join an agreement on Thursday to end financing for “unabated” oil, gas and coal in other countries by the end of next year. Unabated refers to power plants that burn fossil fuels and discharge the pollution directly into the air, without any attempt to capture the emissions.
That agreement is expected to significantly help steer public financing from multilateral development funders, such as the World Bank, away from fossil fuels. The 25 countries and entities in that pact, which include Italy, Canada and Denmark, have promised to prioritize support for low and zero-carbon energy like wind, solar and geothermal.
The decision to stop financing overseas fossil fuel development, paired with investments in green energy, is “really significant,” said Rachel Kyte of the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
“If we were just saying no to brown energy, then the political tensions between developing countries and developed countries would just escalate,” she said.
Republicans in the United States criticized the Biden administration’s pledge to end oil, gas and coal financing — noting the absence from the agreements of China, Japan and South Korea, some of the world’s biggest backers of foreign oil and gas projects.
“This agreement opens the door for China & Russia to fund the same production, but with their nonexistent environmental standards,” Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, wrote on Twitter. “Patting yourself on the back and pretending to make a difference does nothing if it only leads to higher global emissions.”