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Britain has first week free of #Coal in over a century

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Britain, the birth place of coal power, has gone seven days without electricity from coal-fired stations for the first time since its 19th century industrial revolution, the country’s power grid operator said on Wednesday (8 May), writes Susanna Twidale.

Britain was home to the world’s first coal-fuelled power plant in the 1880s, and coal was its dominant electric source and a major economic driver for the next century.

However, coal plants emit almost double the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) - a heat-trapping gas blamed for global warming - as gas-fired power plants, and were moved out of Britain’s cities from the late 1950’s to reduce air pollution.

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As part of efforts to meet its climate target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared with 1990 levels in the next three decades, Britain plans to wean itself completely off coal-fired power generation by 2025.

Low power prices and levies on CO2 emissions have also made it increasingly unprofitable to run coal plants, especially when wind and solar power production are high.

The National Grid, Britain’s power transmission network, said coal-free runs like the one this week would become a regular occurrence as more renewable energy entered the system.

Britain’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, last week recommended that it deepen its climate target to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

This would require even more renewable electricity production, an earlier phase out of new petrol and diesel cars, and lifestyle changes such as lower beef and lamb consumption.

Britain’s last deep-cast coal mine closed in North Yorkshire in 2015, marking the end of an era for an industry once employing 1.2 million people in nearly 3,000 collieries.

“Just a few years ago we were told Britain couldn’t possibly keep the lights on without burning coal,” said Doug Parr, policy director at environmental activist group Greenpeace.

“Now coal is quickly becoming an irrelevance, much to the benefit of our climate and air quality, and we barely notice it.”

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sounded the death knell for the industry in the mid-1980s when she defeated a bitter year-long miners’ strike against plans to close collieries and eliminate jobs.

 

Last year the government rejected plans from Banks Mining to develop a new coal mine in north-eastern England on the grounds it could hamper efforts to curb climate change.

However, the company won a High Court challenge to fight the decision and the application is now back with the current local government minister, James Brokenshire.

Climate change

Police clear climate activists from heart of Zurich financial district

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Climate activists of "Rise up for Change" block an entrance of Credit Suiesse to protest against big banks' financing of fossil fuel projects that damage the environment in Zurich, Germany, August 2, 2021. Schweiz Rise Up For Change/Handout via REUTERS
Climate activists of "Rise up for Change" block an entrance of UBS to protest against big banks' financing of fossil fuel projects that damage the environment in Zurich, Germany, August 2, 2021.  Schweiz Rise Up For Change/Handout via REUTERS

Climate activists of 'Rise up for Change' block an entrance of UBS to protest against big banks' financing of fossil fuel projects that damage the environment in Zurich, Germany, 2 August 2021. Schweiz Rise Up For Change/Handout via REUTERS

Police began clearing climate activists from the heart of Zurich's financial district on Monday (2 August) after they blocked bank entrances to protest against lenders' financing of fossil fuel projects that damage the environment, writes Michael Shields.

Zurich police led away singing and chanting activists who had taken up positions at the entrances to Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) and UBS in the Paradeplatz square in the Swiss financial hub. (UBSG.S) after they refused to disperse.

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"Credit Suisse and UBS have so far done anything but respond adequately to the climate crisis. That is why the climate justice movement is occupying the Credit Suisse headquarters and the nearby UBS office today to draw attention to the consequences of the Swiss financial institutions' inaction," Frida Kohlmann, spokesperson for the Rise Up for Change group, said in a statement.

Activists had staged a hoax outside Credit Suisse's headquarters last week, posing as representatives of the Swiss bank and announcing an end to its fossil fuel financing. Read more.

The protest comes amid a wave of civil disobedience by activists in Switzerland, where the climate is warming at about twice the pace of the global average and changing its famed mountain landscapes. Read more.

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Commission adopts new guidance on how to protect future infrastructure projects against climate change

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The European Commission has published new technical guidance on climate protection of infrastructure projects for the period 2021-2027. These guidelines will allow climate considerations to be integrated into future investments and the development of infrastructure projects, whether they are buildings, network infrastructure or a series of systems and built assets. In this way, European institutional and private investors will be able to make informed decisions on projects deemed compatible with the Paris Agreement and the EU's climate objectives.

The guidelines adopted will help the EU to implement the European Green Deal, to apply the instructions of the European climate law and to contribute to greener EU spending. They are part of the perspective of a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of -55% by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050; they respect the principles of ‘primacy of energy efficiency 'and‘ not to cause significant harm'; and they meet the requirements set out in the legislation for several EU funds such as InvestEU, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund (CF ) and the Just Transition Fund (FTJ).

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We have to fight global warming much faster - Merkel

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Not enough has been done to reduce carbon emissions to help tackle global warming, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) said last week, writes Kirsti Knolle, Reuters.

"This is not only true for Germany but for many countries in the world," Merkel told a news conference in Berlin, adding that it was important to implement measures compatible with climate goals in the Paris agreement.

Merkel, who stands down as chanceller later this year, said she had devoted much energy during her political career on climate protection but was very aware of the need for much speedier action.

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