A new report published by the charity and independent think tank Green Alliance says that plans to develop new coal mines in the UK are ‘incompatible’ with the current legally-binding climate ambition for net-zero emissions by 2050.
The focus of the report is on the proposed Woodhouse Colliery mine for steelmaking in Cumbria.
Planning permission was granted for the land-based section of the mine in March 2019 and when assessing the planning application, Cumbria council twice stated that the mine would be ‘carbon neutral.’
The council claims that the coal produced will be a substitute for coal produced elsewhere, meaning that there is no net increase in coal production worldwide, which they describe as a ‘carbon neutral situation.’
The authors of the report have outlined four ways that governing bodies can reduce the climate impact of steelmaking.
- Use less steel
- Recycle more steel
- Improve the efficiency of steel production in the blast furnace
- Produce steel without coal
Professor Rebecca Willis, one of the authors of the report, said: ‘The proposed mine is clearly incompatible with the UK’s climate ambitions and the need for a clean energy future.
‘The new government has championed its commitment to climate action.
‘It now needs to set out its policy on fossil fuel extraction, making it clear that digging more coal out of the ground is no longer acceptable.’
Dustin Benton, Green Alliance’s policy director, said: ‘Clean energy has already made coal obsolete in the power sector.
‘Our previous work shows that UK demand for coking coal would halve if steel producers opted for cheaper, cleaner steel production.
‘In addition, innovation in zero-carbon steel production means this mine will likely become redundant in the near future, saddling Cumbria with an expensive stranded asset.’
Earlier this week, (January 13) there was international outrage as plans to develop a new coal mine were given the go-ahead in Australia.
It is estimated that the mine will release an estimated 4.6bn tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and will also gain access to 170bn litres of sacred groundwater.
The coal mine will also destroy ancestral lands, waters and cultures of indigenous people, as well as allowing more than 500 coal ships to travel through the Great Barrier Reef ever year
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