Coal was the engine of the Industrial Revolution, but Britain was a century away decarbonization Not because of environmental sensitivity (which is a recent thing), but because of efforts by successive governments to get rid of unproductive businesses that are costing the state so much. Margaret Thatcher is still hated by the sons and grandsons of the miners, whom she left without a spiritual job and a good salary.
Ironically, now that global warming panic has spread and Glasgow hosts a carbon reduction summit in November, England is considering opening its first coal mine in Whitehaven (Cumbria) in several decades.
With no coal of its own, the UK imports 2 million tons annually
The controversial project (which will create six hundred direct jobs with salaries of up to seventy thousand euros per year and up to sixteen hundred indirect, and will contribute two billion euros to the country’s GDP) has the support of local MP Trudy Harrison and has been approved in three different votes by the city council. But opposition from environmental groups prompted the Johnson administration to order a month-long mine impact study, then make the final decision.
For advocates of the mine, it would create jobs in one of the most depressed areas of northern England, with poor communications, and ignored by tourists despite its proximity to the lake district, with its closed pubs and old doors and windows. The shops are covered with cardboard. For critics, it is absurd that Britain will turn to coal again when it wants to become a champion in the fight against global warming, and for years it has been evolving towards renewable forms of energy such as wind and marine. Arguments about protecting the planet are on the sidelines, they say, they will have no future.
The project will contribute €2 billion to the economy of a recessionary region
West Cumbria Mining (owned by the Australian consortium EMR Capital), the company sponsoring the initiative, ensures that coal will be extracted using far more environmentally friendly technologies than those applied in Ukraine, Turkey and other countries than the UK currently imports the ore needed to produce steel and iron. Instead of buying two million tons per year thousands of kilometers away, it is better to have your own mine proximity .
Paradoxical as it may sound, the development of green energies such as wind and offshore turbines requires steel. And for steel, coal is still needed, which produces greenhouse gases and warms the atmosphere, whether it is mined at home or imported from abroad. But Johnson’s government, which has promised to make Britain the “Saudi Arabia of the wind,” faces a serious diplomatic problem, how to sell Russia and China a serious and credible effort to reduce the carbon footprint at the summit. On climate change two months from now, when England itself has opened a new mine.
The mine will create 600 direct jobs with salaries of up to 70,000 euros per year and another 1,600 indirect jobs
On the other hand, the Prime Minister made the development of the poor northern regions of the country the biggest goal of his mandate. As in other areas, with the construction of new highways and a high-speed train, in Whitehaven and the Cumbria region, which in recent years have been left without a chemical plant and blast furnace, hopes are pinned on coal. mine. “When you’re out of work and you don’t have to eat, environmental protection takes a back seat,” says Steve Furness, who has submitted his resume to project managers.
To further the plan, West Mining set up its offices in a former mining museum, as if reminiscent of the old days. But with Friends of the Earth campaigners door-to-door campaigning, and Johnson concerned about his environmental legacy and cutting carbon emissions by 2050, the company doesn’t have everything with him and fears losing the €45 million invested so far. It will be seen what the government decides, if the economy or the environment win this time.
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