Reclaim the power! Progress towards a fossil-free UK

| 29th April 2016
On 15th August 2015 climate protestors in Germany occupied and closed down a massive open pit coal mine in their 'Ende Gelände' action. Photo: Tim Wagner / 350.org via Flickr (CC BY).
On 15th August 2015 climate protestors in Germany occupied and closed down a massive open pit coal mine in their 'Ende Gelände' action. Photo: Tim Wagner / 350.org via Flickr (CC BY).
Momentum is gathering behind the UK's transition to a fossil free society, writes Guy Shrubsole. We know we need to leave at least 80% of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground to avert catastrophic climate change. Here's a quick run-down of progress to date - and the key upcoming fights, including an invasion of the UK's biggest coal mine this weekend.
We want to see fossil fuel extraction end on UK soil by 2020, with a plan put in place for North Sea oil and gas to transition to North Sea wave and tidal, and for the country to power up with clean renewables.

The UK should be leading the way in going fossil free, especially in light of the Paris Agreement's goal to keep global temperature rise below 1.5C.

And yet the UK Government is proposing to "maximise economic recovery" of offshore oil and gas, is going "all out" for fracking, and still permits opencast coal mining.

But campaigners are gearing up for action to put an end to the fossil fuel madness. This weekend hundreds of people are gathering near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales to shut down the UK's largest coal mine at Ffos-y-fran - and that's just to part of a mass global protest against fossil fuels that's kicking off in May, coordinated by the BreakFree Coalition.

But it's not just climate activists that are getting hot under the collar. Communities, councils, and devolved administrations across the UK are starting to rise to this challenge.

Scotland

Wales

We want to see fossil fuel extraction end on UK soil by 2020, with a plan put in place for North Sea oil and gas to transition to North Sea wave and tidal, and for the country to power up with clean renewables.
  • Caerphilly Council rejected the proposed opencast coal mine at Nant Llesg in August 2015; mining company have appealed decision, but 9,000 have already objected to the plans.

  • Other opencast coal mines are proposed at Varteg and Tower Colliery

  • The last big coal power station in Wales, Aberthaw, is still operating despite being in breach of EU air pollution rules for 8 years - but has just announced that it will be winding down operations to only run in winter months. This is potentially a massive blow to opencast coal in Wales, which depends on Aberthaw as its main customer.

  • Second turbine at Uskmouth coal power station switched back on 24th March 2016.

  • England

    Northern Ireland

    • There are no active fracking sites in Northern Ireland. One site, Woodburn near Carrickfergus, is being prepared for exploratory drilling. The company, InfraStrata, claims they are exploring for conventional oil and gas.

    • There is one coal-fired power station in Northern Ireland, AES Kilroot outside Carrickfergus. It is a dual coal and oil plant, primarily using coal, and additional gas turbines, with a small amount of biomass too.

    • There is no coal extraction in Northern Ireland.

    In short, there's lots of things to be cheerful about - but lots of remaining challenges, too. We are campaigning to stop fracking and end opencast coal mining, as the UK's next steps towards becoming a fossil free nation.

    We want to see fossil fuel extraction end on UK soil by 2020, with a plan put in place for North Sea oil and gas to transition to North Sea wave and tidal, and for the country to power up with clean renewables.

    And if you want to join up with others to help make the point, this weekend is the time to get started, by joining the Reclaim the Power action at Ffos-yfran. Or if you're not in the UK, check out Break Free 2016 to find an action in your country.

    Together, let's make the UK, and the world, go fossil free!

     


     

    Guy Shrubsole is a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

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