Case for coal crumbles as Kingsnorth is shelved

Posted by christian — 8 October 2009 at 9:36am - Comments

How do you measure success? Many times, it’s difficult to point to one specific moment when a campaign delivers a big moment that demonstrates, beyond any doubt, that you've succeeded.

Well, our thanks go to E.ON for providing that moment for our coal campaign late last night – just as we were leaving the office, in fact. On my way to the pub, I met a press officer running back towards the front door – "E.ON have shelved Kingsnorth – just got to go and check if it's real, see you in a few…"

He never made it to the pub, because as the evening unfolded it became clear that E.ON were, indeed, after a three year public campaign, kicking their plans for the massively controversial coal plant into the long grass – which would have been the first to be built in Britain since Drax was completed more than 20 years ago.

When we checked with E.ON's European office, they emailed us to say:

"We can confirm that we expect to defer an investment decision on the Kingsnorth proposals for up to two to three years.

"This is based on the global recession, which has pushed back the need for new plant in the UK to around 2016 because of the reduction in demand for electricity."

So what does this mean? Well, there are a couple of key questions. The first one is: does a delay of two to three years mean that the Kingsnorth project is now effectively shelved? According to E.ON:

"We are not going to make a decision on whether to open it for two to three years and it would then take around four years to build."

So potentially we're looking at 2016 before any new plant would be completed, and that's a long way away. Reasons to be sceptical that E.ON will actually build the plant revolve around the rapidly changing dynamics of the energy sector, and an assessment of how difficult they've found it to build a new plant to date.

"The case for new coal is crumbling, with even E.ON now accepting it's not currently economic to build new plants." John Sauven, Director, Greenpeace UKAnd that gets into the second question: why the turnaround? E.ON are sticking to their party line that this is a consequence of the global recession, and that's certainly had its part to play. But it's worth remembering that two years ago today, when our activists closed down Kingsnorth power station, the company was indicating that they wanted to start construction work within weeks.

That was well before any economic downturn, and there's been constant pressure from a wide coalition of environmental and development campaigners, including all of us who've given support to The Big If and Give Coal the Boot campaigns. Obviously that pressure has had its effect.

So this is a massive breakthrough in the campaign against coal. As our executive director John Sauven has been telling the media this morning:

"This development is extremely good news for the climate and in a stroke significantly reduces the chances of an unabated Kingsnorth plant ever being built. The case for new coal is crumbling, with even E.ON now accepting it's not currently economic to build new plants. The huge diverse coalition of people who have campaigned against Kingsnorth because of the threat it posed to the climate should take heart that emissions from new coal are now even less likely in Britain."

The world's leading climate scientist, Professor Jim Hansen of Nasa, also welcomed the decision as a step in the right direction, but warned that real political leadership is needed to urgently reduce the use of coal - the single most harmful fossil fuel:

"The requirement is to phase out coal emissions, if we want to be fair to our children and grandchildren. We desperately need a nation to exert some leadership, adopting policies to move promptly in that direction. I still look on UK as being perhaps the best hope for leading a fundamental change.

"But as yet there seems to be no government, the US included, with the guts to say what is needed and move in that direction. Instead we hear goals for emissions reduction – what a fake – the coal must be left in the ground or we can never achieve the needed goals for atmospheric carbon dioxide."

And nicely done.

The idea that Eon have delayed plans because of the global recession is clearly hogwash. UK demand for electricty has barely changed. 6 months ago Eon was telling us that if they didn't build Kingsnorth the lights would go out. A dull but somewhat familiar line.

I think finally it's dawned on them that building big fossil fuel dinosaurs is no longer an intelligent way to run a business. With the very real possibility of carbon taxes, and serious investment in renewables like any intelligent profit hungry company they can see which way the wind is blowing....

Now all we need is some decent political leadership to seize the opportunity and to rule out new coal fired power stations for good.

How about it Ed? or if you don't have the gumption to make the most of this should we be talking to the Tories?

... Because the air just got cleaner.

Such incredible news - truly. And for anyone who'd like to join the celebration on Facebook, try this group:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148101218166

Fantastic news! Now let's step up the pressure on Ed Miliband to seize the moment and put an end to coal in the UK. Full stop.

The whole energy demand is definitely nonsense, i agree. Wouldn't it be great if they had seen sense and decided that their proposition was a load of rubbish. (Mind you it would be far better if they just admitted it, instead of covering up)
I jumped skyhigh with joy when i heard! WOW! and it's my birthday tomorrow!!!!

May I respectfully suggest that your euphoria over EON’s decision to wait and see what happens as a result of the UN’s December conference before committing to coal is misplaced. In global terms Britain is a minor user of fossil fuels and has a mature economy. The developing economies which are lucky enough to enjoy coal resources will be using them increasingly to help their economies develop. The strongest growing economy in the world is China, which will probably be the world’s major economy by 2020, is pushing ahead with more and more coal-fired power stations.

As reported in The Guardian in June 2007 QUOTE: The country is now building 550 coal-fired power stations - opening at the equivalent of two a week - and in the five years to 2005, electricity generation rose 150%. UNQUOTE. The New York times reported in May this year QUOTE: China’s frenetic construction of coal-fired power plants has raised worries around the world about the effect on climate change. China now uses more coal than the United States, Europe and Japan combined, making it the world’s largest emitter of gases that are warming the planet. UNQUOTE.

It went on to say QUOTE: But largely missing in the hand-wringing is this: China has emerged in the past two years as the world’s leading builder of more efficient, less polluting coal power plants, mastering the technology and driving down the cost. UNQUOTE. This is good news, because pollutants should be reduced to an acceptable level, but should not be mistaken as believing that this means less carbon dioxide. This is not a pollutant, but an essential life-supporting substance, emissions of which will not reduce. In fact they will increase tremendously as China’s economy charges ahead.

Thank goodness that The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis is no more than that and that more and more scientists are acknowledging that our use of fossil fuels does not cause significant climate change. Cleaned-up coal is the way for economically generating energy in future, since its main emission is harmless CO2.

Regards, Pete Ridley, Human-made Global Climate Change Agnostic

So to summarise your post:

1) Human made global climate change doesn't exist
2) Even If it did exist it's probably a good thing
3) Even if it is a bad thing there's no point in doing anything about it as it's all China's fault

A familiar set of tired old arguments that have been wheeled out time and time again.

A basic understanding of science deals with #1 and#2, and a 10 year old would be able to help you with the science. They learn the theories behind the science of climate change in school, alongside the Theory of Evolution. Both originating in the 1850's.

Finally you're suggesting that in order to stop the Chinese destabilsing the delicate balance that is the greenhouse effect, and that our entire eco-system depends on for existence, we should do all we can to destabilise it first.

Ha yes that'll teach them.

During the process of summarising someone else's comments one should try very hard not to distort.
1) Please note the significant missing word "significant" in your summary. You will also find that I made no mention of “doesn't exist”.
2) I made no mention of “a good thing” or “a good” or “good thing” or “a thing” or “thing” and only used “good” with regard to China’s efforts to use “more efficient, less polluting coal power plants”.
3) As for “it's all China's fault” did I mention fault anywhere. On the contrary, I praised China for its efforts to use coal in a clean manner and with all of that life-supporting CO2 that they will be emitting their food production is going to benefit as well. Win – win eh?

May I suggest that you invite one of those brilliant 10-year-olds to advise the UN’s IPCC (and Greenpeace scientists) about all of the numerous “uncertainties” surrounding our understanding of climate processes and drivers. A subject so complex that even the best scientists in the world are acknowledging these significant uncertainties and demanding more and more funds to support all of the essential further research to remove those uncertainties.

You really should try to get at least some understanding of climate science before trying to pontificate on it. Don’t just depend upon what you see in the media. You can’t trust them to present the truth as it doesn’t sell papers anything like as well as a good old scare story.

Best regards, Pete Ridley, Human-made Global Climate Change Agnostic

Pete Ridley, Human-made Global Climate Change Agnostic

I was told today by a psychiatrist who came to my home at 12:45 pm that in my
fusion reactor that I had stumbled on a state secret.

I suggest you request an audience with Prince William to request he releases the
classified information about the fusion reactor.

Christopher Strevens

And nicely done. The idea that Eon have delayed plans because of the global recession is clearly hogwash. UK demand for electricty has barely changed. 6 months ago Eon was telling us that if they didn't build Kingsnorth the lights would go out. A dull but somewhat familiar line. I think finally it's dawned on them that building big fossil fuel dinosaurs is no longer an intelligent way to run a business. With the very real possibility of carbon taxes, and serious investment in renewables like any intelligent profit hungry company they can see which way the wind is blowing.... Now all we need is some decent political leadership to seize the opportunity and to rule out new coal fired power stations for good. How about it Ed? or if you don't have the gumption to make the most of this should we be talking to the Tories?

... Because the air just got cleaner. Such incredible news - truly. And for anyone who'd like to join the celebration on Facebook, try this group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148101218166

Fantastic news! Now let's step up the pressure on Ed Miliband to seize the moment and put an end to coal in the UK. Full stop.

The whole energy demand is definitely nonsense, i agree. Wouldn't it be great if they had seen sense and decided that their proposition was a load of rubbish. (Mind you it would be far better if they just admitted it, instead of covering up) I jumped skyhigh with joy when i heard! WOW! and it's my birthday tomorrow!!!!

May I respectfully suggest that your euphoria over EON’s decision to wait and see what happens as a result of the UN’s December conference before committing to coal is misplaced. In global terms Britain is a minor user of fossil fuels and has a mature economy. The developing economies which are lucky enough to enjoy coal resources will be using them increasingly to help their economies develop. The strongest growing economy in the world is China, which will probably be the world’s major economy by 2020, is pushing ahead with more and more coal-fired power stations. As reported in The Guardian in June 2007 QUOTE: The country is now building 550 coal-fired power stations - opening at the equivalent of two a week - and in the five years to 2005, electricity generation rose 150%. UNQUOTE. The New York times reported in May this year QUOTE: China’s frenetic construction of coal-fired power plants has raised worries around the world about the effect on climate change. China now uses more coal than the United States, Europe and Japan combined, making it the world’s largest emitter of gases that are warming the planet. UNQUOTE. It went on to say QUOTE: But largely missing in the hand-wringing is this: China has emerged in the past two years as the world’s leading builder of more efficient, less polluting coal power plants, mastering the technology and driving down the cost. UNQUOTE. This is good news, because pollutants should be reduced to an acceptable level, but should not be mistaken as believing that this means less carbon dioxide. This is not a pollutant, but an essential life-supporting substance, emissions of which will not reduce. In fact they will increase tremendously as China’s economy charges ahead. Thank goodness that The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis is no more than that and that more and more scientists are acknowledging that our use of fossil fuels does not cause significant climate change. Cleaned-up coal is the way for economically generating energy in future, since its main emission is harmless CO2. Regards, Pete Ridley, Human-made Global Climate Change Agnostic

So to summarise your post: 1) Human made global climate change doesn't exist 2) Even If it did exist it's probably a good thing 3) Even if it is a bad thing there's no point in doing anything about it as it's all China's fault A familiar set of tired old arguments that have been wheeled out time and time again. A basic understanding of science deals with #1 and#2, and a 10 year old would be able to help you with the science. They learn the theories behind the science of climate change in school, alongside the Theory of Evolution. Both originating in the 1850's. Finally you're suggesting that in order to stop the Chinese destabilsing the delicate balance that is the greenhouse effect, and that our entire eco-system depends on for existence, we should do all we can to destabilise it first. Ha yes that'll teach them.

During the process of summarising someone else's comments one should try very hard not to distort. 1) Please note the significant missing word "significant" in your summary. You will also find that I made no mention of “doesn't exist”. 2) I made no mention of “a good thing” or “a good” or “good thing” or “a thing” or “thing” and only used “good” with regard to China’s efforts to use “more efficient, less polluting coal power plants”. 3) As for “it's all China's fault” did I mention fault anywhere. On the contrary, I praised China for its efforts to use coal in a clean manner and with all of that life-supporting CO2 that they will be emitting their food production is going to benefit as well. Win – win eh? May I suggest that you invite one of those brilliant 10-year-olds to advise the UN’s IPCC (and Greenpeace scientists) about all of the numerous “uncertainties” surrounding our understanding of climate processes and drivers. A subject so complex that even the best scientists in the world are acknowledging these significant uncertainties and demanding more and more funds to support all of the essential further research to remove those uncertainties. You really should try to get at least some understanding of climate science before trying to pontificate on it. Don’t just depend upon what you see in the media. You can’t trust them to present the truth as it doesn’t sell papers anything like as well as a good old scare story. Best regards, Pete Ridley, Human-made Global Climate Change Agnostic Pete Ridley, Human-made Global Climate Change Agnostic

I was told today by a psychiatrist who came to my home at 12:45 pm that in my fusion reactor that I had stumbled on a state secret. I suggest you request an audience with Prince William to request he releases the classified information about the fusion reactor. Christopher Strevens

About Christian Hunt

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Sea ice geek, former web editor at GP.

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