If you had a serious breathing problem, would you take up smoking? Hopefully the answer to that question is no. But we face the same question with our energy mix. We urgently need to wean ourselves off a dangerous addiction, which is toxic to people and planet.
And we are making progress. Coal-fired power plants are closing each year and by 2025 will be entirely phased out. However, in its place we are still building new gas plants, which emit fewer carbon emissions, but are still responsible for driving, and worsening, the climate crisis.
The news that the government has given the green light to what could be Europe’s largest gas plant, located in Yorkshire, is an example of acting in two opposite ways to the climate emergency. We are swapping one brand of cigarettes for another. While the UK has a clear goal to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050, we continue to encourage behaviour which will make that task much harder, if not impossible.
The decision is confusing and cynical. The government’s own planning authority recommended the plant be rejected because of climate concerns. And we already have far more gas capacity approved than we will need over the next 20 years.
We are swapping one brand of cigarettes for another. We continue to encourage behaviour which will make the shift to net-zero emissions much harder, if not impossible.
The company responsible for the project, Drax Power, has a long history in fossil fuels and continues to run the largest power station in the UK. But in recent years, it has converted most of its old coal units to run on biomass instead. Drax has also announced plans to become “carbon negative” by 2030, removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it produces. How does this new climate-wrecking power plant fit into those plans?
For now, the project has been put on hold, thanks to lawyer activists at ClientEarth who have launched a legal challenge against the decision. Their tireless work is ensuring the government doesn’t backtrack on fighting climate change and improving our air quality.
We have started a petition to persuade the energy secretary, Alok Sharma, to halt the project immediately. If you agree, please add your name to the list and let the government know you support clean power instead.