Capture carbon? No longer have to
|February 13, 2008||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Capture carbon? No longer have to
Coal giant dictates government climate policy
Owners of natural resources have so much power! Not only do they get to keep all the revenue paid for goods created by nature, but we subsidize them to boot! Its a policy that needs to be turned around by 180 degrees — quit the subsidies and recover the natural rents. Greenpeace of the UK posted this on their website on 31 January 2008.
By Greenpeace activist Bex
One email, four words and six minutes: thats how long it took for the government to reverse its energy policy and trash our chances of meeting our climate change targets.
Weve got our mitts on some government documents which show how a single angry email from E.on destroyed a central pillar of the governments energy policy in just a few minutes.
E.on, you might remember, is the German company that wants to build the first new coal fired power plant in the UK for 30 years at Kingsnorth in Kent, which will pump out as much CO2 as thirty developing countries combined. The company is the biggest greenhouse gas polluter in the UK and, it seems, holds more sway over government policy than, say, the worlds foremost climate scientist. When E.on says jump, the government jumps.
Weve known for a while that the government wants new coal, and that its been using the myth of clean coal (coal with carbon capture) to justify its desire — despite the fact that coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels, and that the carbon capture technologies dont actually exist.
In an email to the government — which we got hold of under the Freedom of Information Act — E.on snaps at the government, saying that business minister John Hutton has no right to withhold approval of the new plant.
E.on also tells the government not to include carbon capture and storage in their conditions for building the new coal plant.
It took the government just six minutes to reply: Thanks. I wont include. Just like that. (It’s a shame the thousands of emails you’ve sent to John Hutton and Gordon Brown asking them to say no to new coal didn’t have the same impact.)
In the same email, E.on admits that carbon capture doesnt exist (or, in their words, it has no current reference for viability at any scale), exposing the governments energy policy and E.on’s media strategy — based on a faith in the potential of carbon capture technology to deliver ‘clean coal’ — as hollow.
It’s now completely obvious that the company and the government are only interested in pressing ahead with a conventional, polluting plant as soon as possible — regardless of the implications for our carbon emissions targets.
Just one week after this email was written, ministers told us that wed be generating 30 to 40 per cent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2020. So, what will it be? A renewables revolution, or a renaissance for the most polluting fuel there is?
We can stop climate change. There is a solution that will slash our carbon emissions and ensure energy security — watch our film to find out more. You can also write to John Hutton to demand a public inquiry into Kingsnorth. But, if these documents are anything to go by, he wont listen to you — unless you work for a giant German energy company called E.on.
JJS: Economic policy plays a major role in pollution — we subsidize polluters and grant them tax breaks. Reverse that, and economic policy can motivate a clean and efficient economy. That is, quit subsidizing coal and other fossil fuels. Instead, require them to pay for any damages and, most basically, recover the rents — the value of the fuel in the ground — from the energy company. Making fossil fuels less profitable and more expensive by contrast makes renewable power sources more remunerative. On a level playing field, the alternatives can compete, win larger market share, and let us quit polluting the only planet most of us will ever live on.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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