One email, four words and six minutes: that’s how long it took for the government to reverse its energy policy and trash our chances of meeting our climate change targets.
We’ve got our mitts on some government documents which show how a single angry email from E.on destroyed a central pillar of the government’s energy policy in just a few minutes.
E.on, you might remember, is the German company that wants to build the first new coal fired power plant in the UK for 30 years at Kingsnorth in Kent, which will pump out as much CO2 as thirty developing countries combined. The company is the biggest greenhouse gas polluter in the UK and, it seems, holds more sway over government policy than, say, the world’s foremost climate scientist. When E.on says jump, the government jumps.
We’ve known for a while that the government wants new coal, and that it’s been using the myth of “clean coal” (coal with carbon capture) to justify its desire – despite the fact that coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels, and that the carbon capture technologies don’t actually exist.
In an email to the government – which we got hold of under the Freedom of Information Act - E.on snaps at the government, saying that business minister John Hutton “has no right to withhold approval” of the new plant.
E.on also tells the government not to include carbon capture and storage in their conditions for building the new coal plant.
It took the government just six minutes to reply: “Thanks. I won’t include.” Just like that. (It's a shame the thousands of emails you've sent to John Hutton and Gordon Brown asking them to say no to new coal didn't have the same impact.)
In the same email, E.on admits that carbon capture doesn’t exist (or, in their words, it “has no current reference for viability at any scale”), exposing the government’s energy policy and E.on's media strategy – based on a faith in the potential of carbon capture technology to deliver 'clean coal' – as hollow.
It's now completely obvious that the company and the government are only interested in pressing ahead with a conventional, polluting plant as soon as possible - regardless of the implications for our carbon emissions targets.
Just one week after this email was written, ministers told us that we’d be generating 30 to 40 per cent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2020. So, what will it be? A renewables revolution, or a renaissance for the most polluting fuel there is?
We can stop climate change. There is a solution that will slash our carbon emissions and ensure energy security - watch our film to find out more. You can also write to John Hutton to demand a public inquiry into Kingsnorth. But, if these documents are anything to go by, he won’t listen to you - unless you work for a giant German energy company called E.on.
You can read the emails and documents (all pdfs) for yourself here: