Sunday, 24 February 2008

Coal Power - No Thanks

If we are going to succeed tackling climate change we must generate far more our energy from clean sources and shut down our old, dirty power plants - yet the government seems unable to make the break from fossil-fuel power generation. We dont want to replace oil with an even dirtier fuel, why is it so difficult for them to get the message about the sustainability of renewables?

In a month's time Secretary of State for Business John Hutton will decide whether construction can begin on the first coal-fired power station in over 30 years at Kingsnorth in Kent. If it gets the go-ahead, and all the indications are that it will, then any realistic chance we have of reducing our CO2 emissions by a meaningful amount will fly right out of the window.

In case you need a reminder about why this is such bad news - coal-fired power generation is the most environmentally damaging means of generating electricity yet devised. In fact, in carbon terms, coal is the dirtiest fuel known to man. How concerned should we be? One of the world's most respected climate scientist, Jim Hansen, is so worried about plans for new coal plants in Britain that he recently took the unprecedented step of writing to the Prime Minister to remind him that "the single greatest threat to the climate comes from burning coal" and that Brown held "the future of the world in his hands".

The government is putting its faith in 'carbon capture and storage' (CCS) technology which promises to extract the CO2 from the power generation process before it is released into the atmosphere. But the trouble with CCS is that no-one knows when - if ever - it will be commercially available. Not before Kingsnorth comes on stream in 2012, and almost certainly not in the following 10 years when another six proposed new coal plants would enter service.
Kingsnorth would not be using carbon capture and storage technology for at the first decade of operation - if at all. And in that time is would release more CO2 into the atmosphere than the 30 least polluting countries combined. So this proposal has to be stopped in its tracks - it really is just that simple. Many people now recognise the seriousness of the situation and they are mobilising opposition. You can help by keeping up the pressure on John Hutton - please take a few minutes to write to him and urge him to reconsider approving Kingsnorth and other new coal plants lined up behind it.

Why not write a personal letter laying out your objections to new coal in your own words is much more powerful than signing a petition and could make all the difference. Asking your MP to personally lobby John Hutton would have even more impact.

Campaign with Greenpeace on this issue, see

1 comment:

World Development Movement said...

Hi, we're currently running a campaign against the new generation of coal plants - centering around Kingsnorth - which will release more CO2 every year than the whole of Ghana: visit for more info