Clean coal, Kingsnorth and Hansen’s warning
Have we got our policies right on clean coal? This week I attended a seminar with Dr James Hansen, widely regarded one of the world’s leading climate change scientists. He is visiting the UK to hold a series of meetings with UK politicians, NGOs, trade unions and business leaders – and giving evidence at the Kingsnorth trial hearings.
He is warning that coal is the root of the CO2 problem, responsible for 50% of CO2 in the atmosphere now, and 40% of current emissions. Unless we tackle coal emissions head on, global warming will reach the point of no return. Hence his call for a moratorium on building ‘unabated’ coal-fired power stations – including Kingsnorth.
The TUC supports rapid development of carbon capture & storage technology, for new coal plant to replace our ageing power stations. For this reason we have supported Kingsnorth, unabated yes, but with the potential to become the UK’s first clean coal plant. But the Government hasn’t yet mandated CCS for coal, now or at a known future date. Nor has it set out a policy framework to secure clean coal and gas stations for the future.
This year’s TUC Congress calls for Government action to ensure that long-term pubic interest predominates over short-term business priorities. If we are to heed Hansen’s warning, then we may need to revisit our ‘clean coal’ strategy.