In a bid to boost the country’s climate credentials ahead of an all-important climate summit in November, all coal-fired electricity production will be stopped by the U.K in October 2024. An announcement was made today, by the climate change minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan stating that “send a clear signal around the world that the U.K. is leading the way in consigning coal power to the history books.” It also, reinstated the, U.K.’s call for other countries to hasten the cease coal power globally, stating that the government would introduce new legislation as soon as opportunity persists.
However, Britain will continue coal mining for export purposes and coal utility in other carbon-intensive processes such as steelmaking. This is an attempt by Boris Johnson’s government, ahead of the major COP26 climate summit, to re-establish its leadership image.
Last week, the government was called on the carpet by the country’s climate watchdog for its failure to put in place concrete measures to alleviate greenhouse gas emission. In the same week it was declared that ministers would support another oilfield in the North Sea, while a dubious new coal mineshaft in the north of England is as yet getting looked at.
Nevertheless, the initiative on coal would be highly appreciated by environmentalists as coal is one of the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. 30% of Carbon dioxide emission worldwide come from coal-fired electricity generation – per the IEA. It is the world’s major cause of air pollution, attributing to 8.7 million deaths globally in 2018.
Director of the Smith School at the University of Oxford, Cameron Hepburn, welcomed the move. She 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”. She also stated that this would occur one way or another. The questionable fact remains that some countries, governments are subsidising coal to keep it running. That criticism will be felt intensely by Australia, wherein Prime Minister Scott Morrison, stated that coal had 10 to 30 years to run, despite the decreasing demand & other countries’ commitment in ceasing the use of this fuel. Australia’s largest exporter & world’s exhaustive consumer of coal, China is aiming for peak carbon emissions by 2030. This would warrant for the move away from coal.
The decline in coal usage has been in talks for decades in Britain. However, it has quickened in recent years. Britain was the pioneer of coal-fired power plant built by Thomas Edison, generating 97-percent of the country’s electricity. This reduced in the 20th century with the advent of fuels such as fossil gas came online, yet coal was still generating 40% of British electricity in 2012. U.K’s 2008 Climate Change Act, legally put an end to coal with dedication to reducing greenhouse emissions by 80-percent by 2050. The government has been implementing new measures to curb coal usage & carbon emissions.
Professor of climate change economics and policy at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford, Sam Fankhauser, stated in an announcement that this would be a symbolic milestone and an important signal to coal dependent countries. President designate, Alok Sharma, mentioned he hopes the step would send “a clear signal to friends around the world that clean power is the way forward.” Frankhauster, however, proposed that less emphasis should be placed on promises, instead focus on the delivery, especially, towards building new renewable energy capacity.