A tonne of coal has been dumped outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change by Friends of the Earth today [Friday 22 April] in protest at opencast coal mining in the UK. The pile includes one lump of coal for each of the almost 10,000 people who signed the petition calling for ministers to change the planning rules so that no new opencast coal mines are allowed.
The protest comes on the day politicians gather in New York for the signing of the historic Paris climate agreement, which commits governments to holding global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. If this aspiration is to be met, we need to stop burning fossil fuels, such as coal, and instead leave them in the ground.
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said:
“To meet the Paris Agreement, the Government must leave fossil fuels, like coal, in the ground – yet we’re still permitting vast new opencast coal mines to be dug up next door to communities and beauty spots across the UK.
“No-one likes a view of dirty coal outside their door, so we’ve dumped this pile of coal to remind ministers to do the right thing and leave coal in the ground.”
Last November, the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, pledged to phase out coal power stations within a decade. Three UK coal power stations are closing this year alone but new opencast coal mines are still being permitted. The Government has the chance to change this nonsensical policy with a simple change to the planning rules which would prevent new coal extraction in the UK.
Guy Shrubsole added:
“Encouraging solar and wind energy projects would create many thousands more jobs than new coal mines and would be good for our environment too.”
1. The coal dumped by Friends of the Earth has been sourced from opencast coal mines in the UK and it will be disposed of in a way that makes sure it never gets burned.
2. The Paris Agreement commits governments to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”. It is being opened for formal signing this Friday 22nd April; 160 governments are expected to sign.
3. Analysis by Carbon Tracker has shown that to have a better-than-even chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees, 80% of proven reserves of fossil fuels have to be left in the ground. To meet the 1.5 degree goal, and for the UK to undertake its fair share of emissions reductions as a rich nation, this percentage increases.f
4. In November 2015, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd pledged to phase out all coal-fired power stations by 2025. At least 3 UK coal power stations are closing this year: Longannet (closed March), Ferrybridge C (closed March), Eggborough (closing April, with standby reserve for winter 16/17). Three out of four turbine units at Fiddlers’ Ferry are closing in April 2016. Rugeley is closing summer 2016. More details here.