UK To Go Completely Coal Power Free By 2024
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The UK government has announced that all coal-fired electricity generation will stop by October 2024, bringing forward the end date for the fuel by a year.
The energy and climate change minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said the move ‘sends a clear signal around the world that the UK is leading the way in consigning coal power to the history books’.
The UK is seeking to urge other countries to accelerate the end of coal power worldwide, however coal will continue to be mined for export as well as use in processes such as steelmaking.
The move comes as the government attempts to re-establish its eco-credentials ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, after receiving damning criticism from the UK climate watchdog.
It accused ministers of failing to implement coherent plans to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions or to take measures to prepare for the effects of climate change in the same week that a new North Sea oilfield was approved and discussions over the opening of a new coal mine in Cumbria continue.
The most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that coal-fired power stations contribute 30% of carbon dioxide emissions globally and are a leading source of air pollution, responsible for as many as 8.7 million deaths worldwide in 2018.
Speaking to Forbes, Cameron Hepburn, director of the Smith School at the University of Oxford, said: “Coal deserves a dignified death. It served us well but it is yesterday's technology, dirty and uncompetitive compared to cheaper, new, higher-tech renewables.
“This would have happened anyway, soon enough, so the applause should be muted. The crazy thing is that in some countries, governments are subsidising coal to keep it running.
“Why waste taxpayer money on propping up an industry that still, every year, leads to more silent deaths than a major war?”
Professor of climate change economics and policy at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford, Sam Fankhauser, said that the while the announcement was an ‘important signal to other coal-dependent nations’ it is not a game-changer for UK climate policy.
He suggested the government should place less emphasis on promises, and more on delivery, when it comes to improving the UK’s renewable energy capacity.
“From a purely domestic point of view, the government’s focus has to be on delivering the 40 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity it has promised and starting to bring down emissions outside the electricity sector,” said Frankhauser.
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