Government announces plans to close coal power stations by 2025: reactions

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The Government has announced plans to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025 and restrict their use by 2023.

Announcing the decision ahead of a major speech this morning which will set out a new direction for energy policy which has energy security at the heart of it and delivers for families and businesses, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said:

“Energy security comes first and I am determined to ensure that the UK has secure, affordable, and clean energy supplies that hardworking families and businesses can rely on now and in the future.

“We are tackling a legacy of underinvestment and ageing power stations which we need to replace with alternatives that are reliable, good value for money, and help to reduce our emissions. It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations.

“Let me be clear: this is not the future. We need to build a new energy infrastructure, fit for the 21st century. Our determination to cut carbon emissions as cost effectively as possible is crystal clear and this step will make us one of the first developed countries to commit to taking coal off our system”.

Vice President Al Gore said: “The decision by Prime Minister David Cameron  to phase out the United Kingdom’s unabated coal power stations by 2025 sets an excellent and inspiring precedent as we head into COP21. With this announcement, the UK is demonstrating the type of leadership that nations around the world must take in order to craft a successful agreement in Paris and solve the climate crisis.

“The UK has become the first major economy to set a clear date to phase out coal, and I am hopeful that others will follow suit as we repower the global economy with the clean energy we need for a sustainable future.”

WWF-UK Chief Executive David Nussbaum said: “Today the UK Government has become the first major economy to announce that it will phase out coal from its power sector. This is particularly significant with only days to go before the negotiations on a new international climate change deal begin in Paris.

“WWF has been calling on the Prime Minister to honour the commitment he made during the election to phase out coal. We are pleased he has       done so – now we look forward to working with the government to build on this commitment.

“By phasing out coal by 2025 and limiting hours to 2023 the government has recognised the serious environmental impacts of dirty coal – and its potential to bust the UK’s climate commitments.”

Ben Goldsmith, Co-Chair of the Conservative Environment Network and CEO of Menhaden Capital, said:  “The first country to have used coal for electricity, since 1882, will become the first major country to completely phase it out. This sends an incredibly strong signal to other countries before the Paris climate negotiations, especially those with similarly old and unreliable coal plants. We need to systematically phase out coal globally and a British conservative government is leading the way. This would not have been possible under Corbyn’s Labour Party, who are still wedded to the coal industry.”

According to E3G, as of mid-2016, employment in coal mining and power generation will be close to 3,500 in total, just 10% of the 35,000 jobs in the UK’s wind, wave and tidal sectors.

Nick Mabey, CEO of E3G said: “The UK has recognised the necessity of the end of coal and made it a reality, increasing the political momentum ahead of the Paris summit. Acting to end coal can help the UK recover credibility as a location for investment in clean technology. But if coal is simply replaced by gas the UK will continue its addiction to fossil fuels and is in danger of being left behind in the global clean tech race.

“In 2014, coal power stations produced 17% of all the UK’s CO2 emissions.  And around 80% of the UK’s coal is imported, and 40% of that is from Russia. Coal use threatens the two-degree carbon budget.”

Ilmi Granoff, Senior Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute said: “The UK has shown clarity of vision in committing to phase out coal power generation by 2025. Orienting its power sector to low-carbon energy would have domestic benefits to air and climate. But just as importantly the coal phase out will also have global impacts. It should pave the way for similar commitments from other developed countries. The UK is now also well positioned to help enable developing countries to leapfrog to clean energy.”

Friends of the Earth’s senior energy campaigner Simon Bullock said: “Amber Rudd is certainly taking UK energy policy in a new direction: unfortunately it’s backwards to the 20th century.

“Phasing out coal – if that’s what’s being suggested – is essential for the climate. But switching from coal to gas is like an alcoholic switching from two bottles of whisky a day to two bottles of port. The UK Government’s ongoing addiction to fossil fuels sends a terrible signal to crucial Paris climate talks, starting in a fortnight.”