coal miner pit

Government considers bringing forward phase-out of coal by one year

Image credit: DT

The government is to consider bringing forwards the deadline for cutting coal out of the UK’s energy mix to 2024 from 2025.

Coal is the most polluting of the fossil fuels; it is responsible for considerable fatal air pollution in addition to its carbon emissions.

However, the UK’s dependence on coal has dropped rapidly over the past 30 years: from 70 per cent in 1990, down to 40 per cent in 2012, and now less than three per cent today. Last year, the country went over five months without using any coal, whilst simultaneously increasing renewables capacity to almost a third of the total energy mix.

There are just four active coal generators left in the UK, one of which is already due to close in March 2020.

The government had originally planned for 2025 as the deadline for a total phase-out of coal, but is now consulting on bringing this deadline forward by one year to 1 October 2024.

Speaking at an event to mark preparations for the UN’s climate change summit, to be held in Glasgow this autumn, the Prime Minister said: “We want to get [coal use] to zero by 2024 and that is because we’re able to do that, because this country is leading a revolution in renewable energy.”

In a statement, business secretary Andrea Leadsom commented: “The UK has a proud record in tackling climate change and making the most of the enormous economic potential of clean technologies. This is my number one priority and we will raise our ambition in this year of climate action. Coal-generated energy will soon be a distant memory as we plan to decarbonise every sector of our economy, enabling a greener future for all our children.”

The coal phase-out is one small element of a larger decarbonisation effort, through which the government is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

The COP26 summit in Glasgow will be a key test of whether world leaders are prepared to take urgent action to decarbonise their economies in order to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change by committing to maintaining global temperature rises to within 2°C.

Questions have been raised over Boris Johnson’s ability to lead on climate issues this week, with his sacking of COP26 President Clare O’Neill followed by her public accusations that Johnson failed to convene a Cabinet subcommittee on climate change, which he had promised, and that he admitted to her that he did not understand climate change.

The COP26 presidency remains vacant, with former Prime Minister David Cameron having turned down Johnson's advances to take up the role.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles