THE UK is set to join more than 20 nations and financial bodies in ending all financing for the development of overseas fossil fuels – while countries will commit to the complete phasing out of burning coal and shift to renewable power.

COP26 could also see steps made towards ending new oil and gas exploration when the focus turn to energy at the summit today.

But the move comes  as scientists warn that carbon emissions from fossil fuels look set to rebound to close to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 – and could even rise further in 2022.

The UK Government’s president of COP26, Alok Sharma, is expected to call on nations to “consign coal to the history books”, when he will appeal for a scaling up of clean power sources and a specific transition away from coal power.

It is believed Mr Sharma will renew calls for an end to the construction of new unabated coal-fired power plants across the globe in an attempt for nations to dramatically cut their carbon emissions.

UK-led efforts to phase out coal are expected to today lead to an additional 18 countries - taking the total to more than 40 - committing for the first time to phase out and not build or invest in new coal power, including Poland, Vietnam, and Chile, marking a milestone moment at COP26 in the global clean energy transition.

Nations signed up to the commitment will end all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally, commit to rapidly scale up deployment of clean power generation, phase out coal power in economies in the 2030s for major economies and 2040s for the rest of the world.

The commitment will also see nations agree to make a just transition away from coal power in a way that benefits workers and communities.

Efforts to swiftly end the use of coal – the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – are seen as key to cutting carbon enough to get the world on track to limit global warming to 1.5C, beyond which the worst impacts of storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas will be felt.

Since the Paris climate accord to limit global warming to 1.5C to 2C was agreed in 2015, there has been a 76% cut in the number of new coal plants planned, a cancellation of 1,000 gigawatts of new coal plants – around 10 times the UK’s total electricity generating capacity, UK officials said.

But while it appears the world’s use of coal peaked in around 2014, it is still not falling significantly, with heavy use and even increases in countries such as China.

In May, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that investment in new polluting coal power plants and mines, and new oil and gas projects, had to be stopped from 2021 in order to effectively tackle climate change.

In order for the planet to reach net zero emissions by 2050 – needed to meet the internationally agreed 1.5C goal – global electricity production must hit that target a decade earlier, the IEA said.

The development comes as China, Japan and Korea, the three largest public financiers of coal, committed to end overseas finance for coal generation by the end of 2021.

UK Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Today marks a milestone moment in our global efforts to tackle climate change as nations from all corners of the world unite in Glasgow to declare that coal has no part to play in our future power generation.

“Spearheaded by the UK’s COP26 presidency, today’s ambitious commitments made by our international partners demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight. The world is moving in the right direction, standing ready to seal coal’s fate and embrace the environmental and economic benefits of building a future that is powered by clean energy”.

But it is thought that many nation that are heavily reliant on burning coal for energy, inclduing the United Stated, China, India and Australia will not sign up to the pledge.

The announcements come as analysis from the Global Carbon Project showed the scale of the challenge, with coal – and gas – emissions set to rise to above 2019 levels in 2021, although oil pollution remains below pre-pandemic levels.

More than 20 nations, including the United States, are expected to sign up to an agreement to move funding away from overseas fossil fuels projects – which is estimated to tally up around £8 billion each year globally for renewable energy.

The joint agreement, set to be announced today, will stop the funding of any fossil fuel development overseas, including oil and gas, but there are likely to be provisions for loopholes and currently planned projects are set to proceed.

If confirmed, this would be the first international political commitments that promises an end to overseas fossil fuels investment.

It is also hoped that today could signal more nations signing up to the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance – the Danish-led strategy that focuses on phasing out the use of oil and gas entirely.

The Scottish Greens have consistently appealed for Nicola Sturgeon to sign up to the initiative.

Last month, the First Minister and Greens minister Lorna Slater met with Danish climate minister Dan Jørgensen.

Speaking in Holyrood last week, SNP Net Zero Secretary, Michael Matheson, confirmed that the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance “was briefly discussed” at the meeting.

He added: “In line with the Scottish Government’s evidence-based approach to policy development, we have committed to undertaking a programme of work and analysis to better understand Scotland’s energy requirements as we transition to net zero, and how that aligns with our climate change targets.

“We will consider the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance further alongside that programme of work and analysis and other sources of evidence that are provided.”

Today, Nicola Sturgeon is set to stress her Government’s ambition to become a renewable energy powerhouse.

The First Minister will speak at an offshore wind business breakfast and will announce plans to publish a roadmap outlining future opportunities for leasing – following the outcome of the first ScotWind round has been announce in January.

Mr Matheson will co-chair an event with Professor Sir Jim McDonald, who led a Scottish Government-commissioned strategic investment assessment of the sector in the summer, to discuss plans for a 10-fold increase in installed Offshore Wind capacity by 2030 – enough to power more than 8 million homes.

The Scottish Government’s strategy hopes for an additional 11GW of offshore wind to be installed within 10 years.

Mr Matheson said: “The world needs bold action to tackle the climate emergency. By acting now, we can set Scotland on a pathway to meeting our climate change targets in a way that supports a just transition and delivers a greener, fairer future for everyone.

“COP26 presents an opportunity to showcase the hugely positive story we already have to tell in renewables while demonstrating the bold steps we are taking to seize the environmental and economic opportunities of an energy revolution.

“The growth of our onshore and offshore wind sectors over the next ten years will be transformative, delivering further good, green jobs, benefits for communities and strengthened energy security as we transition to becoming a net zero nation.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland said: “To address the climate emergency we’re going to need to see greater electrification of our transport, heating, along with other industry sectors. That means more renewable power is going to be needed and that means more wind power, especially offshore.

“Greater clarity on the pipeline of future opportunities will help industry plan ahead and maximise the creation of jobs here in Scotland.”