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Setting the summit pace? UK brings forward end to coal power target

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By Reuters
Setting the summit pace? UK brings forward end to coal power target
Setting the summit pace? UK brings forward end to coal power target   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
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By Elizabeth Piper and Susanna Twidale

LONDON – Britain will bring forward its target to end the use of coal in electricity generation by a year to October 2024, the government said on Wednesday, part of efforts to spur other nations to move more quickly to cut emissions before a climate summit.

Since Britain completed its exit from the European Union last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to build London’s influence on the world stage by getting countries back on track to meet global climate targets at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

Stopping the use of coal to generate electricity is a major step to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, which scientists say would avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change.

But the credentials of Johnson’s government have come under scrutiny by green groups, with several questioning how a proposed development of a new coal mine in northern England and an oil project in Scotland fit with ministers’ stated aims.

After announcing in February the intention to bring forward the deadline to phase out coal from the energy system, energy and climate change minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the government would introduce legislation “at the earliest opportunity”.

“Today we’re sending a clear signal around the world that the UK is leading the way in consigning coal power to the history books and that we’re serious about decarbonising our power system so we can meet our ambitious, world-leading climate targets,” Trevelyan said in a statement.

“The UK’s net zero future will be powered by renewables, and it is this technology that will drive the green industrial revolution and create new jobs across the country.”

Britain, home to the world’s first coal-fuelled power plant in the 1880s, was largely reliant on the fossil fuel for electricity for the next century.

In a bid to help meet its climate targets Britain has reduced its use of coal in the power sector to less than 2% of the electricity mix in 2020 compared with around 25% five years ago.

London’s COP26 team, led by lawmaker Alok Sharma, also hopes to convince more countries to stop the international financing of coal projects that emit carbon by the end of this year, and phase out such support for all fossil fuels.

Later on Wednesday, Trevelyan will address the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) Europe Roundtable on the importance of countries phasing out coal finance, as part of London Climate Action Week.