Budget: "clean coal" money is "counter-productive and wasteful"

22 April 2009

In today's Budget, the Chancellor is expected to announce government funding for so-called "clean coal" projects - which the Green Party says would be "a waste of money, and counter-productive in terms of both cutting emissions and creating jobs."

Recently the Department for Energy and Climate Change said the global market from carbon capture and storage (CCS) on coal-fired stations could be worth £2.4 billion a year to the UK by 2030, creating over 50,000 jobs.

But the Green Party says that:

  • Investment in wind energy instead of "clean coal" could generate four times as many jobs, ten years sooner.
  • A nationwide energy-conservation programme could generate almost three times as many jobs as "clean coal" - while reducing energy demand to such a level that the new coal-fired power stations would not be necessary.

Professor John Whitelegg, the Green Party's spokesperson on sustainable development, said today:

"If CCS works, and if it proves economically viable, it's still the wrong technology. We're facing a recession as well as a climate crisis, and we need a lot of jobs urgently."

"The promised 50,000 jobs in CCS by 2030 are far too few, far too late. On the other hand, if we generated the same proportion of our electricity from windfarms as Denmark does, and at the rate of growth Denmark has achieved, we'd create about 200,000 jobs by 2020. We could start doing this tomorrow and achieve the emissions reduction and the job-creation we need much faster than with so-called 'clean coal.'"

"And if we bring every home in the UK up to the proper energy-saving standards, this alone could create 137,000 jobs. Do that, and we'll save so much energy we wouldn't need coal-fired stations anyway."

The Greens argue that comparative studies have always shown renewable energy sustains far more jobs per megawatt than coal. Professor Whitelegg added: "And we'd be dependent on imported energy just as we are now, and vulnerable to potential price fluctuations and disruption as we have been with oil. We need to leave that coal in the ground and invest heavily in energy-conservation and renewables."

"We know how to achieve a very low-carbon economy through jobs-rich green energy policies, so why on earth should we tinker with jobs-poor unproven technology that keeps us dependent on fossil fuels?"



- Leading Greens are available for interview.


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