Politics

Caroline Lucas says new coal mine is 'climate crime against humanity'

Caroline Lucas calls government's coal mine plans a 'climate crime against humanity'

A government decision to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria has been met with huge backlash.

Levelling-up minister Michael Gove approved the mine, which the department said will be used for the production of steel and not for power generation, and is the UK's first in 30 years.

While some have praised it for job creation, others have condemned it for climate reasons.

Conservative peer Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee which advises the government, condemned the decision as undermining UK efforts to reach net zero.

“The UK’s hard-fought global influence on climate is diminished by today’s decision,” he said.

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He said it also “sends entirely the wrong signal to other countries about the UK’s climate priorities”.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “Approving this mine is a misguided and deeply damaging mistake that flies in the face of all the evidence.

“The mine isn’t needed, will add to global climate emissions, and won’t replace Russian coal.”

Labour shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband said it is “no solution to the energy crisis, it does not offer secure, long-term jobs, and it marks this government giving up on all pretence of climate leadership”.

“Waving this mine through further cements Rishi Sunak as an out of date fossil fuel PM in a renewable age,” the MP said.

The Liberal Democrats criticised the government for approving the “deeply damaging coal mine”.

Environment spokesman Tim Farron said: “This decision cancels out all the progress Britain has made on renewable energy. The government’s environmental credentials are yet again left in tatters.

“Rishi Sunak’s government is trashing our country’s reputation as a world lead in cutting emissions. He does not represent the views of the public who want green, clean projects.”

And Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said it was "a climate crime against humanity".

Meanwhile, it comes after the UK urged other countries to “consign coal to history” as it hosted the COP26 climate summit last year.

But the planning inspector who recommended the site’s approval wrote that the development would “have an overall neutral effect on climate change”.

Stephen Normington said the amount of coal used in steel making would be “broadly the same” with or without the mine.

“Consequently, I consider that the proposed development would have a broadly neutral effect on the global release of GHG (greenhouse gas) from coal used in steel making whether or not end use emissions are taken into account,” he wrote.

The levelling up department added in a statement:“The mine seeks to be net zero in its operations and is expected to contribute to local employment and the wider economy.”

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