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Time for UK government to leave coal burning in the past, says Christian Aid.

21 October 2015 - Christian Aid today called for the Prime Minister to fulfil his promise to phase out coal power ahead of the global climate change summit next month.

With momentum towards a low-carbon economy growing around the world, Christian Aid and MPs from all the main parties have called on the UK Government to publish a concrete plan to phase out coal power in the UK energy sector by 2023.

At the launch of the ‘Big Shift’ campaign today in Westminster, MPs from all the major parties joined the call to act. Outside Westminster today campaigners and MPs shovelled coal into a Victorian themed coal cart to highlight that coal power belongs in the past.

Christian Aid’s Tom Viita said: “Coal helped to power the industrial revolution and propelled Britain to become the fifth richest country in the world, but coal must be part of our history not part of our future. The Prime Minister has recognised that coal is the most polluting fossil fuel, and rightly promised to phase out coal from our energy system. Now it is time to make that promise a reality ahead of the Paris climate summit in December.

“Already over 150 countries have made climate change pledges this year, including historic commitments from the USA and China. The future is not polluting energy from fossil fuels, but investment in new low carbon revolution. The UK will need to move fast to stay ahead in the global competition for investment, and the next step is ending coal and giving the green light to new jobs in renewables.”

MPs of all the major parties and from across the UK supported the campaign.  MPs attending the event included Conservative MP Neil Carmichael, Labour MP Ian Murray, leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron, SNP energy spokesperson Callum McCaig, Green MP Caroline Lucas, and Northern Ireland’s Mark Durkan MP for SDLP.

A report today ranked the UK third among G7 countries for ending its dependence on coal, and recognised a clear opportunity for the UK to go further and drive political momentum for the broader transition away from coal.

Mr. Viita said: “Not only is coal’s polluting carbon emissions a driver of climate change, our energy landscape is now very different from the 19th century. Modern renewables are getting better all the time and recent research by Bloomberg showed wind power is now the cheapest form of electricity to produce in the UK. But the longer coal lingers on, the less incentive there is for companies to invest in low carbon alternatives. The sooner coal plants close, the sooner we can see investment in a 100% clean power sector."

Low-carbon is not just the future for the UK. Developing countries have major opportunities to leapfrog over dirty development pathways to cleaner, more cost-effective options.

Mr Viita added: “Billions of people lack access to electricity and the best option for them is not to wait for a huge grid infrastructure and polluting coal plants. Decentralised renewable energy is healthier, cheaper and can be installed today.”

Next month OECD countries will meet to agree greater restrictions on their coal technology. The UK should join other countries in putting pressure on Japan to cease promoting the most polluting forms of coal.

Mr Viita said: “Some OECD countries continue to promote coal use abroad, even as they move to phase out coal domestically. The UK should also ensure its own policies are consistent across departments, and ensure the Department of Business stops supporting any coal projects abroad too.”

To join the call to the UK Government for a big shift away from fossils visit www.christianaid.org.uk/bigshift

For more information contact Karen Lobo-Morell 020 7523 2404 klobomorell@christian-aid.org.  The 24 hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950.

Christian Aid’s report Low Carbon Africa: Leapfrogging to a green future can be read here:http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/LowCarbonAfrica.pdf

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

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk


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