18 November 2015 - Christian Aid today welcomes Energy Secretary Amber Rudd’s announcement that the UK will stop using coal and also notes a new OECD agreement to tighten restrictions on exports of coal technology.
Responding to Ms Rudd, Alison Doig, Principal Climate Change Advisor, said: “Coal is the largest single source of carbon emissions worldwide and accounts for a quarter of UK carbon emissions, so it was high time the UK took the decision to stop burning it.
“Britain became the world’s first industrialised country on the back of coal, so ending hundreds of years of dependence is hugely symbolic.
“Ms Rudd’s decision to phase out coal is especially timely and boosts momentums ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris. Where the UK leads, others must follow.
“The OECD’s agreement to put tighter restrictions on coal technology is another nail in the coffin for climate-polluting coal.”
However Christian Aid also cautioned that the UK’s reputation as a climate leader required continued, rapid reduction of the country’s emissions.
Ms Doig added: “The UK has lead climate negotiations for 20 years but that reputation relies on walking the talk. This year, 155 countries have made new climate pledges, including historic moves from the USA and China. Now is the time to speed up the UK’s decarbonisation ambitions, not slow them down.
“The most cost-effective route for the UK is to commit to a virtually carbon-free power sector within the next fifteen years. Phasing out coal clears the way for new investment in low-carbon energy but the Government must send consistent signals to investors and industry: they need clarity and certainty if they are to invest in the renewable energy the UK needs.
“Replacing coal with gas will only buy a little time. A dash for gas is simply incompatible with tackling climate change and leading by example.”
Archbishop Thabo of Cape Town, who is Chair of the Anglican Eco Bishops for Ecojustice, said: "The announcement that a country which pioneered industrial development is taking the first steps towards phasing out the world's most polluting fossil fuel is welcome news indeed. As the Paris climate talks approach, it is time for middle-income and developing countries to leapfrog dirty coal altogether by using clean technologies to fuel our development."
On Tuesday this week, OECD countries finally agreed much tougher restrictions on how they use export guarantees to promote coal power overseas. Coal exporters such as Australia and South Korea strongly opposed such moves but a compromise was reached.
Alison Doig added: “Coal is climate enemy number one and the OECD’s tighter restrictions on coal exports will cut funding to 80% of planned coal projects - but they should have been much tougher. Sadly these new export rules are incompatible with keeping global warming below 2 degrees.
“The UK and USA helped to reach a reasonable compromise, winning over opposition from Australia and South Korea. These coal exporters need to see that the writing is on the wall for the coal industry – coal belongs in the past, not the future.”
Christian Aid has been campaigning for a swift end to coal use at home and abroad.
Ms Doig added: “More than 50,000 people have signed a petition calling on Amber Rudd to end coal burning, shift to clean, renewable energy, and ensure our export strategy goes low carbon. Today’s announcement is a victory for campaigners.”
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
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