Rebecca Willis: Could a remote spot in the far northwest of England become the new battleground in the culture wars? A new coal mine has been proposed on the Cumbrian coast, just up the road from me. Like Brexit or colonial statues, opinions are bitterly divided. To one side, it’s obvious that the mine should go ahead. Coal is part of the UK’s proud industrial heritage, and the new mine will provide much-needed local jobs, as well as coal for the steel industry. To the other, the very last thing this warming world needs is another coal mine; if the UK claims to lead the world on climate change, this mine is an aberration. Study after scientific study has shown that fossil fuels, and particularly coal, the most carbon-intense fuel, must stay in the ground. There’s no case for investment in new mines, if we are to avoid dangerous levels of warming that threaten our planetary life-support systems. The evidence is clear and stark. Steel companies know this, which is why they are investing heavily in alternatives to coal-fuelled production, and expect to have alternatives on stream within one or two decades. Why, if the science is settled, does the coal culture war rage on? The answer lies with money and power. There are still enough companies, and countries, who stand to gain in the short term from digging up coal, that they are throwing down any argument they can to delay the inevitable.
Times 9th July 2020 read more »