Thursday, October 08, 2009

Climate change: A victory for the climate

Kingsnorth power station is one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the UK, generating about 3.5% of the UK's total electricity. Under EU rules, it must close by 2016, and so for the past three years owner E.ON has been pushing to replace it. The replacement would be much more efficient, but would still burn coal (meaning a net increase in emissions over the status quo of the whole plant being shut down), and so it has attracted significant opposition and mass protests. In 2007, Greenpeace invaded the plant and shut it down; six activists were later cleared of criminal damage after arguing that their actions were necessary to protect the global climate. In 2008 the site was again occupied by Greenpeace, and late that year a lone saboteur walked in and shut down a turbine, leaving only the message "no new coal". Now E.ON has thrown in the towel, "postponing" plans for the upgrade, effectively cancelling it.

This is a victory for the climate, and a victory for the public. It shows that if we are determined enough, we can win, regardless of what our governments think. Meanwhile, the cancellation will buy time for a further shift towards renewable energy in the UK, which will hopefully spell the end of dirty coal forever.