UK aims to end use of coal for power a year earlier

Britain says it will end reliance on coal-generated electricity by October 2024 as it prepares to host Cop26

Britain will bring forward its target to end the use of coal in electricity generation by a year to October 2024, the government said on Wednesday.

The UK is trying to convince other nations to cut emissions as it prepares to host an international climate conference in November.

Since Britain completed its exit from the EU last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sought to build its influence on the world stage by getting countries back on track to meet global targets for the UN Climate Change Conference, or Cop26, in Glasgow.

Cutting the use of coal to generate electricity is a major step to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times, which scientists say would avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.

But the government's credentials have come under scrutiny by green groups, with several asking how the proposed development of a new coal mine in northern England and an oil project in Scotland fit with in with stated aims.

After announcing in February the intention to bring forward the deadline to phase out coal from energy production, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the government would introduce legislation "at the earliest opportunity".

"Today we're sending a clear signal around the world that the UK is leading the way in consigning coal power to the history books, and that we're serious about decarbonising our power system so we can meet our ambitious, world-leading climate targets," Ms Trevelyan said.

"The UK's net-zero future will be powered by renewables, and it is this technology that will drive the green industrial revolution and create new jobs across the country."

Britain, home to the world's first coal-fuelled power plant in the 1880s, was largely reliant on coal for electricity for the next century.

To help meet its climate targets, the UK reduced its use of coal for power to less than 2 per cent of the electricity mix in 2020, compared with about 25 per cent five years ago.

London's Cop26 team, led by politician Alok Sharma, also hopes to convince more countries to stop the international financing of coal projects by the end of this year.

Later on Wednesday, Ms Trevelyan will address the Powering Past Coal Alliance Europe Roundtable on the importance of countries phasing out coal financing, as part of London Climate Action Week.

Updated: June 30th 2021, 12:31 AM