Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Clean Coal Nurtures Jobs and Climate

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Clean Coal Nurtures Jobs and Climate

Article excerpt


THE need for a realistic and sustainable energy policy has never been greater. We have all recently seen the erratic fluctuation of fuel prices. Petrol, for example, cost over pounds 1.20 a litre last July and is now about 85p.

And we have also witnessed the cavalier attitude of the Russians in turning off Europe's gas.

These examples illustrate why the United Kingdom should protect itself from the vagaries of the energy market. We are also committed to cutting our carbon emissions to curb the threat of global warming.

The failed strategy of rejecting our own biggest energy resource, coal, in favour of gas has proved a short-term fix. In the 1980s, we led the world in clean coal technology with the safest and most technological coal industry.

As gas runs out and before new nuclear plants and renewable energy are fully developed, we need to face the fact that an energy policy without coal is like a fire without matches.

Coal is a vital part of the energy mix to fuel homes and businesses and reduce our reliance on volatile foreign sources.

Our aim should be to develop a coal industry that utilises technology to come as close as possible to energy self-sufficiency.

Great strides have already been made in boiler technology and the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) needs to be boosted to ensure we burn coal cleanly. This is vital, with or without a revitalised UK coal industry, because we still burn more than 60 million tonnes of coal a year, with only a third coming from this country.

If we moved now to develop clean coal, we could become a world leader in the technology required and increase British green collar jobs. It is estimated CCS could contribute up to 28% of carbon reduction by 2050.

Clean coal technology can assist mining communities and bolster UK manufacturing. As the TUC Clean Coal Task Force outlines, we need to improve our skills base to ensure we catch the coal wave. …

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