Climate expert warns prime minister over ‘contemptuous’ coal mine plans

A banner that reads 'stop funding climate change\
Support us and go ad-free

Boris Johnson risks “humiliation” over approved plans to open a new coal mine in Cumbria, a leading climate scientist has warned.

“Contemptuous disregard”

James Hansen said that failure to stop the mine from going ahead at Whitehaven would be in “contemptuous disregard” for the future of young people and nature. The new facility, which will be used to extract coking coal for steel production, has been granted planning permission by Cumbria County Council.

Coronavirus – Wed Feb 3, 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The government said in January that it would not call in the plans for an inquiry, despite the UK preparing to hold the crucial international Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

In a letter to the prime minister, former Nasa scientist Hansen said:

In leading the UK, as host to the Cop (climate change conference), you have a chance to change the course of our climate trajectory, earning the UK and yourself historic accolades. Or you can stick with business-almost-as-usual and be vilified in the streets of Glasgow, London, and around the world.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

It would be easy to achieve this latter ignominy and humiliation.

Just continue with the plan to open a new coal mine in Cumbria and continue to invest funds of the British public in fossil fuel projects overseas, in contemptuous disregard of the future of young people and nature.

Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg has criticised the go-ahead for the coal mine (PA)

Priorities

Campaigners, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, have criticised the go-ahead for the coal mine, warning it undermines the government’s claims it is committed to cutting emissions to net-zero by 2050. Coal creates carbon dioxide emissions when burned for energy and also when used for steel making and other industrial processes such as cement.

A No 10 spokesperson said the UK “continues to lead the fight against climate change” and had cut emissions “more than any major economy so far”.

The spokesperson added:

We have already committed to ending the use of coal for electricity by 2025 and ending direct government support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas. On top of significant government investment, we will also bring forward a strategy this year to decarbonise industries like steel, and the manufacturing processes they rely on.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick announced in January that the government would not call in the mining plans for an inquiry.

Responding to that decision, Climate Change Committee chair Lord Deben said it gave a “negative impression of the UK’s climate priorities”.

He said:

The mine is projected to increase UK emissions by 0.4Mt (megatonnes) of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per year. This is greater than the level of annual emissions we have projected from all open UK coal mines to 2050.

Featured image via Beyond Coal & Gas Images – Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us