Boris Johnson confirms coal phase out target date has been moved forward by one year to 2024, as Nicola Sturgeon calls for improved co-operation to deliver a successful COP26 Summit
The UK's phase-out date of unabated coal power is to be bought forward by one year to 2024, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today as he officially kicked off the countdown to this autumn's COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow.
Speaking at an event at the Science Museum, Johnson said the UK has slashed its coal-fired power from a 70 per cent share of electricity supplies in 1990 to just three per cent today.
"We want to get it down to zero by 2024," he added, confirming that the previous target date of 2025 had been pulled forward. "And we are able to do that because this country is driving a revolution in renewable energy. Parts of the North and the North East in particular are showing the lead in renewable energy."
The 2025 phase out date was originally announced in 2015 and was followed by a wave of coal planrt closures as operators have struggled to turn a profit in the face of the government's carbon floor price. Today, the only UK coal plants remaining are at West Burton and Ratcliffe, both in Nottinghamshire, and two of the six power generation units at Drax, while Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire and Aberthaw in Wales are both due to close at the end of March.
The 520MW Kilroot coal-fired power station in County Antrim is not covered by the phase out, as energy policy is devolved in Northern Ireland.
In a tweet, Friends of the Earth campaigner Tony Bosworth welcomed the new 2024 phase out date, but pointed out that the government is yet to make a decision on a proposed new opencast mine at Druridge Bay on the Northumbrian coast.
The announcement featured in a wide-ranging speech from Johnson, during which he underscored the importance of the COP26 Summit, confirmed government plans to pull forward the target phase out date for the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles, and reiterated his commitment to the UK's net zero transition.
"This phenomenon of global warming is taking its toll on the most vulnerable populations around the planet," Johnson said. "That's why we are pledged here in the UK to deliver net zero by 2050. We are the first major economy to make that commitment, and it's the right thing to do. It's quite proper that we should. We were the first after all to industrialise - look at the historic emissions of the UK. We have a responsibility to the planet to lead in this way to do this."
He also rejected protests from some in his own Party who have argued decarbonising the UK economy would prove too costly. "Of course there are people in this country and around the world who may say - of course it is expensive, of course it is difficult - it will require thought, change and action.," he said. "And there will be people who will say it is impossible and it can't be done. And my message to all of you this morning is that they are wrong.
"The sceptics are wrong to doubt the Promethean genius of humanity to solve this problem, so we will crack it. And I hope that we can as a planet, and community of nations, get to net zero within decades. We're going to do it by 2050, we're setting the pace, I hope everybody will come with us."