The Times view on new coal mines: Coke Zero. The government was right to order an inquiry into a proposed new coal mine in Cumbria which threatens to undermine Britain’s climate change objectives. The blunt truth is that the investment, had it gone ahead, would have looked hypocritical in the year that Britain is chairing the COP26 global climate conference. The success of that summit hinges on persuading the rest of the world to make commitments to cut emissions to a level consistent with limiting global average temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Britain has long criticised other countries for pushing ahead with new coal-related investments, not least China. Proceeding with the Cumbrian mine would have sent a terrible message about Britain’s willingness to exercise global leadership. No wonder John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, pleaded with ministers when in London this week not to let it go ahead. Indeed it is not even clear what domestic use there will be for the coking coal mined in Cumbria beyond 2035. That is the date by which the British steel industry, which depends on coking coal to fuel its blast furnaces, is expected to itself achieve net zero emissions. Globally the focus today is on developing new, carbon-free technology. This looks certain to be a combination of so-called green hydrogen, that is hydrogen produced using renewable energy, to fuel the furnaces to create high-grade steels and an increased role for recycled steel, which can be produced using electricity. The government’s objective should be to accelerate the transition to this new technology, both to meet its emissions targets and secure the long-term viability of Britain’s steel industry.
Times 13th March 2021 read more »