At 8am on Friday 28th November on a wet and grizzly morning, the Greenwash Guerillas and a band of allies rallied together outside the E-On Head Office at 100 Pall Mall. We were there to protest against the planned government-approved scheme to build 7 new coal fired power stations. E-on will be responsible for the first of these havoc wreaking death chambers (no hyperbole here) at Kingsnorth, Kent. This power station alone will emit between 6 and 8 million tones of CO2 every year. If all 7 are built, their collective emissions would be approximately 50 million tones of CO2 a year. This would make the Climate Change Committee’s proposal to cut back on CO2 emissions an average of 2% per annum so that by 2050 we’ll have an 80% reduction well… impossible.
Browsing through E-on’s website, it might be easy to be fooled into thinking they are an environmentally conscientious company promoting ‘clean, green energy that never runs out.’ But it doesn’t take long to realize that their wind farms and claims of boosting local employment are cleverly marketed to cast a rosy sheen over more profitable projects that use coal.
Coal is the grimiest of fossil fuels. It’s carbon-intensity is higher than oil and double that of natural gas. Yet, as the driving force behind the industrial revolution, it has been the primary source of power for the electricity generation. Gathered outside the E-on head office, we are no longer in the 19th century but in the 21st century and in the midst of a climatic crisis. With sea ice disappearing at a never-before-seen rapidity now is the time to use new greener sources of power, not to revert to the practices of the past.
So why is the government supporting what seems a disastrously archaic project?
The government’s answer is that by increasing the cost of carbon, power stations will be forced to use a process of carbon capture and storage (CCS) whereby the harmful carbon dioxide produced by coal is extracted from the air and buried underground.
However, a presentation made by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee concluded that this reasoning is implausible. Voicing research from the U.K. Energy Research Centre and Climate Change Capital, it showed that using a process of CCS would in fact be the least cost effective option for power stations. The research they gathered predicted that CCS will cost power companies like E-On 70-100 or 90-155 Euros per ton of CO2, while the government estimates that the price of carbon between 2013 and 2020 will be less at approximately 39 Euros per ton.
It’s fair to say that it is extremely unlikely that power companies will go for the more expensive option, especially when the margin is as large as it is. In short, the government’s criteria for approving E- On’s power station at Kingsnorth is worryingly unsatisfactory.
If our government is failing to alleviate the catastrophic predicament of climate change that is costing lives then it is up to us as citizens to take action against the construction of Kingsnorth and others like it. For more information on what you can do please click here and please go to the national climate march on Saturday 6th December, bring your mates and make it fun. This is a serious issue and we need to get the message across but optimism is always the best the way of creating change, in my view anyway.
- The Great Climate Swoop – the mass action of the year!
- Is the Governement failing us on climate change?
- Earth Day
- Bloom In Bloomsbury – A student focused day of outreach and action.
- Earth Listings