In a big win for the environment, the British government announced this week that all coal power plants in the country will be shut down within the next 10 years. The decision comes less than two weeks in advance of the United Nations Climate Conference, where world leaders will convene to develop a global strategy for combatting global warming. Details about the proposal won’t be issued until spring, but this announcement sets the bar high for other world leaders.
Reliance on coal has been in slow decline in the U.K. and now makes up around 20 percent of the nation’s power, as of the second quarter of this year. Getting tough on coal at this point in time positions Britain in a strong stance for pressuring other nations to adopt similar restrictions on carbon emissions. In addition to the 2025 deadline for closing coal-fired power plants, the same call includes a proposal to limit the usage of coal in the last two years prior to the shutdown.
Now that the countdown timer has started, some energy experts are feeling unsure about the future of Britain’s power grid. The electricity grid has recently shown signs of strain and removing coal-based power from the equation could worsen conditions. However, government officials insist that the environmental concerns outweigh any infrastructure problems. In a statement, Amber Rudd, the minister for energy and climate change, said, “It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the U.K. to be relying on polluting, carbon-intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations.”