One of Britain's dirtiest power stations has been shut down by climate change campaigners.
Thirty Greenpeace volunteers invaded the Didcot coal-fired power station at 5:30am this morning. They have immobilised the huge conveyor belts that carry coal into the plant by hitting emergency stop buttons and attaching themselves to machinery. A second group is climbing the 200 metre high chimney, and will set up a climate camp at the top.
The Didcot site is the second most polluting power station in Britain, behind Drax in Yorkshire. The Oxfordshire facility was targeted because - like most of the Britain's power stations - two-thirds of the energy it generates is wasted, making a massive contribution to climate change. The campaigners are demanding that the government phases out these kind of coal fired power stations and instead backs localised - or "decentralised" - power generation, which is much more efficient.
Earlier this week Sir Nicholas Stern released his ground-breaking study, warning of a global catastrophe if carbon emissions are not slashed. On Monday Tony Blair said: "This disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction future many years ahead, but in our lifetime." Meanwhile his government continues to allow inefficient power stations like Didcot to dominate the UK's electricity industry.
Most British power stations waste two-thirds of the energy they generate in the form of heat escaping up their cooling towers. By locating smaller generators close to where energy is used, the heat created in power stations can be captured and used to heat our homes. So-called 'decentralised energy' is already working in many European countries and powering cities like Copenhagen and Malmo. Along with a range of renewable energy technologies it is the key to modernising the electricity industry and slashing its massive contribution to global climate change. Woking Council has reduced its carbon footprint by 77% by employing decentralised technologies.
Greenpeace campaigns director Blake Lee-Harwood, who is part of the team that shut Didcot's conveyor belt, said: "Power stations like this are energy dinosaurs. This one power station emits over six millions tonnes of CO2 a year, that's more than the 29 lowest polluting countries put together. And, shockingly, Didcot could halve its emissions overnight if it switched from burning coal to gas."
"The fact that outrageously inefficient coal fired power stations like this still exist after a decade of New Labour rules is a potent symbol of Tony Blair's failure to tackle climate change. That's why we've shut it down."
Ben Stewart, occupying the 200m smokestack, says, "We hear a lot of fine talk from Tony Blair, but in reality C02 emissions have gone up under Labour while the climate crisis deepens. His legacy will be climate chaos. We'll leave this power station when he pledges to ditch these dinosaurs and start investing in cutting edge decentralised energy."
Under Tony Blair
- The use of coal for electricity generation has gone up from 47.3 to 52.5 million tonnes a year;
- Between the second quarters of 2005 and 2006 coal-burn for electricity rose by 10.5%
- UK CO2 eimissions have risen since 1997, from 549 million tonnes CO2 to 561.5 million tonnes of CO2. C02 emission in 2005 were only 5.5% below 1990 levels, way off the government's target of a 20% cut by 2010.