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Ed Miliband Says Ministers' "Flirting" With New Coal Mine Project Is Undermining COP26 Progress

Ed Miliband claimed the new UK coal project was undermining COP26 progress

3 min read

Ed Miliband, the shadow energy secretary, has accused the government of "double speak and double standards" after they announced a series of commitments at COP26 to reduce the use of coal despite "flirting" with a new UK-based colliery.

Speaking in Glasgow on Thursday, COP26 President Alok Sharma said new commitments made by countries to phase out the use of the fossil fuel was a step towards "consigning coal to history".

More than 40 countries, including Poland and Chile, signed up to the plans to end new investment in new coal power generation and phasing out its use over the next two decades while other large coal burning nations, such as the United States and China refused to make the commitment.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced criticism over plans to open the new colliery in Cumbria, claiming that while he was "not in favour of more coal", that the final say over the plans were "a decision for local planning authorities".

But critics of the plan highlighted that the government were still waiting for a report from the Planning Inspectorate over the plans before Communities Secretary Michael Gove is given the final decision on whether to approve the mining project.

Speaking to PoliticsHome, Miliband said the refusal to scrap the project was "undermining" their ability to press other countries to take tougher acion on phasing out the use of coal.

"The government's actions at home have undermined their ability to use COP26 to power past coal internationally. As they lecture others on phasing out coal, they have flirted with the new Cumbria coal mine," he said.

"Instead of dodging responsibility, they could act to stop the development of new coal mines here at home – as Labour-led Wales has already done."

The Cumbria project would not be covered under the pledges made at the climate summit in Glasgow because the coal mined from the site would be used in the steel production center, rather than being burned to generate electricity.

But Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, said the mine would still "increase global emissions and make it harder to achieve the UK carbon budgets."

Miliband added: "This is the consistent story with the government on the climate crisis: their inconsistency. On coal, the new Cambo oil field, trade deals which are soft on climate, and overseas aid.

"We desperately need this summit to succeed but government double speak and double standards have made it far harder."

A UK government spokesperson said: “Thanks to a package of support from the UK and our international partners, a 190-strong coalition has today agreed to both phase out coal power and end support for new coal power plants.”
“The UK itself has committed to end coal power by 2025, one of the first countries in the world to do so, and we have already made remarkable progress towards that goal. Coal generated only 1.6% of the UK’s electricity mix last year, compared with almost 25% just five years ago.”

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