New Internationalist

Climate campaigners target coal power construction firm

The campaigners from Thames Valley Climate Action, are targeting BAM because the company is bidding for the contract to build a new coal power station at Kingsnorth in Kent, for the energy giant E.ON. This would be the first new UK coal power station for 30 years, and would produce about 7 millions tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to the entire emissions of a country like Ghana. According to a new report from Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum, climate change is already killing 300,000 people per year, and will get much worse unless we urgently reduce our CO2 emissions.

Protestor on flagpole

One of the protesters, Mike Holdman, said: “We are here for the second time this month to demand that BAM Nuttall pulls out of building coal power stations. While we praise BAM’s introduction of low energy lighting and improved heating controls, these initiatives are a drop in the ocean compared with the emissions the firm will cause by building new coal power stations.”

The Government and E.ON are claiming that a new Kingsnorth power station would eventually include carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, to catch 25% of its emissions and store them underground. However, the campaigners inside BAM Nuttall point out that this is unproven technology that is still being tested, and won’t be available until at least 2020. Climate scientists say we need to make sharp carbon cuts long before that date. Even if CCS is one day installed, and works as planned, the plant would still produce more CO2 than a gas power station.

The Government’s other favoured justification for building new coal power stations—that the emissions would be included in the EU’s carbon trading scheme—has been widely and heavily criticized. The scheme is a complex and unworkable distraction from the real climate change solutions, that it isn’t reducing emissions, and it essentially hands control of the climate over to the same bankers, brokers and private traders responsible for the global financial crash

Last week NASA’s top climate scientist, James Hansen, was arrested for taking action against new coal. Hansen said, “It seems to me that young people, especially, should be doing whatever is necessary to block construction of dirty coal-fired power plants.” Even Al Gore said in 2007, “I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power stations.” One of today’s protesters, Anna Samuels, said: “You have a top politician and a top scientist calling for direct action on coal, as we are doing here today. Gore and Hansen must recognise that non-violent direct action has been an important catalyst in nearly every major social change movement in history, from woman’s suffrage to civil rights. We are here today to help catalyze the much-needed shift from coal to a low-carbon economy.”

Louise Smith said: “We need to think about the long-term picture. The Stern Review has shown that coal is not a cost-effective energy source when you factor in the damages that it will cause through future climate change. Climate scientists around the world, from Oxford University’s Myles Allen to NASA’s James Hansen, are denouncing coal. We ask BAM Nuttall to do the same, and stop building new coal power stations.”

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