Monthly Archives: April 2021

Why the application by West Cumbria Mining to create a new coal mine should be decisively rejected

Why the application by West Cumbria Mining to create a new coal mine (Woodhouse Colliery) should be decisively rejected

[A PDF of this post is available HERE.]

This would constitute a significant step forward for efforts to establish the UK as a world leader for efforts to respond to the climate emergency, by helping to build the momentum resulting from:

• the Government’s ground breaking ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’, at the launch of which, on 16th Nov 2017, Rt Hon Claire Perry MP stated that “The time for coal has passed”;

• the Government’s commitment to stop financing for fossil fuel projects abroad from 31st March, 2021.

——————————-

“Coal is not the future… all over the world, people have made a decision to move to cleaner fuel than coal, which is the dirtiest fuel in the world… The future is very clearly in new technologies.”

(John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy, when asked specifically about the Cumbrian mine by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis on 9th March)

“The claim that opening new coal mines helps stop climate change, because ‘local coal’ saves greenhouse gas emissions… is, quite simply, economic nonsense… Digging up more coal makes it cheaper… discouraging the uptake of coal-free methods to produce steel, etc. The proposals are would-be climate wreckers.”

(Professor Paul Ekins OBE, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London)

“Very low and zero emissions from the iron & steel and cement and concrete industries is a technically and economically reasonable challenge”.

(Dr Chris Bataille, OECD Green Growth Papers, No. 2020/02, OECD Publishing, Paris)

“It would be an act of extreme diplomatic delinquency to consent to any new coal mine on the eve of the COP26 summit. The UK has an obligation as host to build confidence that the world can accelerate its currently inadequate progress away from carbon dependency… I hope even now the Government will call a halt to this misbegotten proposal.”

(Mr John Ashton CBE, who served three Foreign Secretaries as Special Representative on Climate Change)

“The opening of a new deep coking coal mine in Cumbria will increase global emissions and have an appreciable impact on the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets…

“It is important to note that this decision gives a negative impression of the UK’s climate priorities in the year of COP26.”

(Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, in letter to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State Ministry of Housing, etc., 29th January 2021)

“The threat of climate change is now so obvious and so deeply worrying that we need to be closing coal mines as quickly as possible, not opening new ones. Those pushing for the Woodhouse Colliery are either profoundly ignorant of the risks of climate change, or so blinded by money as to be a menace to our children and grandchildren.”

(Professor Sir John H. Lawton CBE FRS, Former Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution)

“The UK, as host to COP26, has a chance to change the course of our climate trajectory – or it can stick with business-almost-as-usual and be vilified…around the world.

“It would be easy to achieve… ignominy and humiliation. Just continue with this new coalmine… in contemptuous disregard of the future of young people and nature.”

(Professor James Hansen, NASA’s former chief climate scientist, who alerted the world to global heating in 1988)

———————

Why the application by West Cumbria Mining to create a new coal mine (Woodhouse Colliery) should be decisively rejected

This would constitute a significant step forward for efforts to establish the UK as a world leader for efforts to respond to the climate emergency, by helping to build the momentum resulting from:

• the Government’s ground breaking ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’, at the launch of which, on 16th Nov 2017, Rt Hon Claire Perry MP stated that “The time for coal has passed”;

• the Government’s commitment to stop financing for fossil fuel projects abroad from 31st March, 2021.

Submission by:

David W. Golding CBE PhD DSc DCL
Associate, Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering, & Honorary Chaplain, Newcastle University

With the support of:

Professor Kevin Anderson
Professor of Energy & Climate Change, University of Manchester

Mr John Ashton CBE,
Former Special Representative on Climate Change to three Foreign Secretaries

Professor Sir Tom L. Blundell FRS
Former Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution

Professor Harriet Bulkeley
Professor of Geography, University of Durham, and Coordinator in the Naturvation Project

Professor Richard Dawson
Professor of Earth Systems Engineering, Newcastle University
And Member, Committee on Climate Change UK

Professor Paul Ekins OBE
Director of the Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London

Professor Hayley J. Fowler
Professor of Climate Change Impacts, Newcastle University

Professor Chris G. Kilsby
Professor of Hydrology and Climate Change, Newcastle University,

Professor Sir John H. Lawton CBE FRS
Former Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution

Professor Philip M. McGowan
Professor of Conservation Science and Policy, Newcastle University,

Professor Phil C. Taylor
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, University of Bristol

Professor Rebecca Willis
Professor in Practice, University of Lancaster

In view of the manifest baleful national and global implications of the development of a new coal mine (Woodhouse Colliery), as proposed by West Cumbria Mining, we call for the proposal to be decisively rejected.

The colliery has become a national and international ‘cause celebre’, raising concern and alarm on the part of leaders ranging from the legendary scientist, Dr James Hansen; to Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change; and to the iconic Greta Thunberg, on account of its wider implications.

Consent for the mine would send a terrible message to British finance and industry, and to the wider world. It would stand in striking contrast to the policy of the new American administration in its approach to the exploitation of new reserves of fossil fuels – a most damaging development in view of the importance of the USA for a successful outcome of COP26 this year, which the UK will chair.

Asked specifically about the mine by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis on 9th March, US Special Presidential Envoy, John Kerry, stated that, “Coal is not the future… all over the world, people have made a decision to move to cleaner fuel than coal, which is the dirtiest fuel in the world… The future is very clearly in new technologies.”

We hope that the Government will follow up on such a decision with a commitment to provide generous investment to promote a sustainable economy in the County, something for which it is ideally situated.

—————————————

Dramatic about-turn in US policy

On the first day of his presidency, President Biden signed an executive order blocking the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Department of the Interior has suspended the granting of permits to drill for oil and gas on federal property. Against this backcloth, we have the consent granted by Cumbria County Council to the application by West Cumbria Mining to create a new coal mine (Woodhouse Colliery) and the Government’s decision to ‘call in’ the application and to set up a Public Inquiry to consider it.

As John Kerry stated, coal is the most polluting of all readily available fossil fuels and the coal from the Woodhouse Colliery, when burnt, will discharge the best part of half a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the next 50 years.

‘There is no alternative’, to coal for steelmaking – this is demonstrably false

The principal justification for the proposal is that, “At the moment, there’s no economic way of making steel without coking coal – there is no viable alternative” (Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, Cumbria, Note 1). On the contrary, since steel is virtually indestructible, it is increasingly being produced, even ‘at the moment’, by the Electric Arc Furnace method and, if renewable electricity is used, this is virtually zero carbon. The U.S. now produces 70% of its steel in this way. (Note 2)

Furthermore, according to Dr Chris Bataille, in a major report produced for the OECD in 2020, “Very low and zero emissions from the iron & steel and cement and concrete industries is a technically and economically reasonable challenge”. (Note 3) Indeed, the steel giant SSAB “aims to replace coking coal, traditionally used for ore-based steel making, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen”, and hopes to be doing so by 2026. (Note 2) This is only one of a host of examples and it is doubtless what John Kerry had in mind when, speaking about the West Cumbria mine, he said, “The future is very clearly in new technologies.” (Note 4)

‘Open new coal mines to reduce emissions’ (i.e., the ‘Market Substitution’ argument) – “economic nonsense”

The justification outlined above is linked to the argument that coal from the new mine will replace that which would otherwise need to be imported, with the additional ‘carbon cost’ involved in transport of the latter. [But see note 5.] Several of the signatories of this submission have heard this before, in connection with the proposed new surface mine at Highthorn, near Druridge Bay in Northumberland. We rejected it then and do so again now.

Professor Paul Ekins OBE, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Resources at UCL, states that “The claim that opening new coal mines helps stop climate change, because ‘local coal’ saves greenhouse gas emissions… sounds like common sense – until you ask an economist.” It is, he says, “quite simply, economic nonsense.”

Professor Ekins and his colleagues have characterised this position as “The Substitution Error”, since, as they pointed out:

1. The expansion of the global coal supply will, in the absence of market features for which there is no evidence in respect of demand for coal, lead to downward pressure on the price of coal and an increase in demand for it.

2. This downward price pressure will worsen the competitive position of those developing coal-free technologies in such currently carbon-intensive industries as steel and cement.

3. The result of these economic forces is highly likely to be an increase in GHG emissions in both the short and long term.

Rebecca Willis et al. drew the same conclusion, stating that the development of new mines would “decrease the incentive to use coal more efficiently, recycle more steel or produce steel using alternative processes, even though all these are technically possible.” (Note 6)

Similarly, on 7th February, 2019, Chief Judge Brian Preston dismissed an application to develop the Rocky Hill Mine, in Australia, stating that “the greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGs) of the coal mine and its product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed… is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions.” Furthermore, as the FT stated, “an important part of the ruling was its rejection of the ‘market substitution’ defence.”

Mining companies conveniently ignore the obvious fact that, if we have more coal mines, whether at home or abroad, we’re almost inevitably going to produce more GHG emissions eventually – ‘More Coal Mines = More Carbon Emissions!’ The only responsible policy is to run down both the extraction and use of coal ourselves – and call on our overseas partners to do likewise.

Consent for the Woodhouse Colliery – “an act of extreme diplomatic delinquency”

Mr John Ashton CBE, who served three Foreign Secretaries as Special Representative on Climate Change, states:

“It would be an act of extreme diplomatic delinquency to consent to any new coal mine on the eve of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The UK has an obligation as host to build confidence that the world can accelerate its currently inadequate progress away from carbon dependency… Now with such consent we would be declaring: ‘Do as we say, not as we do’.

“It is true that Cumbria urgently needs investment. But this project will lock it further into the shrinking carbon-based economy and hold back progress towards the major role it could play in building a carbon neutral future. But it is not too late. I hope even now that the government will call a halt to this misbegotten proposal.”

Furthermore, no less a figure than Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, agrees with Mr Ashton, stating that, “It is important to note that this decision gives a negative impression of the UK’s climate priorities in the year of COP26.

Doubts raised over sulphur content of Cumbrian coal

The alarm has been raised just this month that the Cumbrian coal would not be suitable for UK steelmaking, on account of its sulphur content. Indeed, according to an exclusive report in the Daily Telegraph on 1st March (Note 7), Cumbria County Council has been aware for some time that “the level of sulphur content would need to be managed to supply a product currently suitable for British Steel, and it is not clear whether this can be achieved.”

Conclusion

The application to create a new coal mine (Woodhouse Colliery) by West Cumbria Mining should be decisively rejected. This would constitute a significant step forward for efforts to establish the UK as a world leader for efforts to respond to the climate emergency.

This is imperative, because although decarbonising the steel and cement industries is, as Dr Chris Bataille stated in his major study for the OECD last year, “a technically and economically reasonable challenge… clear long term policy signals are needed… to incentivise all key actors to play their parts”. (Note 3)

We will hope that it will accompany such an approach with a commitment to substantial investment in the county in order to make it the major hub for the renewable energy industry for which it is ideally situated.

Temporary Address for Correspondence:

Dr David Golding CBE
38 Brierdene Crescent
Whitley Bay
NE26 4AB

david.golding@ncl.ac.uk

Home, 0191 252 6165 (with voicemail)
Mobile 07 817 637 746

Notes:

1. https://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/19058740.mayor-hits-back-international-criticism-levelled-proposed-west-cumbria-mine/#:~:text=%22At%20the%20moment%2C%20there’s%20no,the%20world%20and%20importing%20it.

2. Jeff Ferry, October 2020, https://www.industryweek.com/the-economy/trade/article/21148048/tariffs-are-keeping-us-steel-production-strong

3. Bataille, C. (2020), “Low and zero emissions in the steel and cement industries: Barriers, technologies and policies”, OECD Green Growth Papers, No. 2020/02, OECD Publishing, Paris.

4. “John Kerry on the US fight against climate change.” BBC2, 9th March 2012. https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eqbxj5/play/p0994qgk

5. It has not been established that the overall level of emissions resulting from use of coal mined at the Woodhouse Colliery would be less than those resulting from using coal from abroad. Supporters of Woodhouse are forward in citing the carbon cost of transport for coal imports (which is modest – about 1% of the total, according to Professor Phil Taylor), but less so in drawing attention to the substantial emissions generated by developing a new deep mine and the (probably) lower carbon cost of extraction by the massive, opencast operations which characterise, for example, many Australian mines.

6. Rebecca Willis, Mike Berners-Lee, Rosie Watson and Mike Elm (2020), “The case against new coal mines in the UK”, Green Alliance, London.

7. “Exclusive: Case for Cumbrian mine undermined by doubt over UK market for coking coal. Sulphur content of the coal could mean British companies are unable to use it.” (Emma Gatten), Daily Telegraph, 1st March.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/environment/2021/03/01/case-cumbrian-mine-undermined-doubt-uk-market-coking-coal/

Posted in What's on | Comments Off on Why the application by West Cumbria Mining to create a new coal mine should be decisively rejected

Why the Church should Care for Creation – the Short Answer

Why the Church should Care for Creation and teach its congregations accordingly – so why do so few do so?

For a fuller treatment of this issue, including its relationship with the gospel of personal redemption by faith in Christ, go to: “A Call for Commitment to Creation Care” – video at
wbbc.org.uk/resources/sermons-3; text at ne-calltoaction.org.uk/?p=798 A copy of this article in Word is available HERE.

The Christian Church has a responsibility to “Declare the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20.27). So its leaders, in their teaching, will need to include, at the very least:

1) The ‘creation ordinance’ to “Care for the earth” (Genesis 2.15)

In contrast, “Humanity is waging war on nature and this is suicidal. Nature always strikes back, and is doing so with gathering force and fury.” (Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations);

2) The apostles’ command to “Care for the poor” (Galatians 2.10)

In contrast, “The climate crisis is leaving two million people each week needing emergency aid.” (Report by the International Red Cross to the UN, Sept 2019) “This is intolerable!” (Francesco Rocca, President of the IRC)

3) The prophetic call to “Care for our children and upcoming generations” (Micah 4.6)

This call needs to be heeded! On ‘Sunday Worship’ on Radio 4 on Sunday 7th March, 19-year old ‘Ruth’ spoke of how “confused and upset” – her words, how “confused and upset” – she was by the failure of the church to respond to climate change and she noted that, according to a recent survey, 90% of Christian young people regard this as a serious issue, but only 10% think the church is paying enough attention to it.

“The failure of our generation on climate change mitigation would lead to consequences that would haunt humanity until the end of time.” (Professor Ross Garnault, the Australian government’s former advisor on climate change)

So how can we account for the widespread indifference of church leaders, at the congregational level, in the face of the environmental emergency, which is, certainly:

• the greatest moral and humanitarian challenge of our generation – moral, given the monstrous injustice of the fact that those suffering the most have done the least to create the problem; and humanitarian, given the scale of that suffering;

• and the greatest, current, spiritual challenge to Christian believers on account of its implications for the sincerity of our profession of faith, given the inevitable, if modest, self-denial involved in a serious response to it?

But if we do ‘care’, what’s the single, most important thing we can all do to care for creation? Two things, actually! We can all pray about it and should all do so. But we should also to add our voices to the clamour for urgent and effective action by our leaders! “To relax the pressure on governments is absolutely the wrong thing to do… Any amount of action by individuals is not going to solve the problem without government doing the things that only it can do”. (The late Professor Sir John Houghton FRS, a Christian believer and the greatest climate scientist of his generation)

Contact, david.golding@ncl.ac.uk

Posted in What's on | Comments Off on Why the Church should Care for Creation – the Short Answer

Whitley Bay Baptist Church, ‘Climate Sunday’, 11th April 2021

Whitley Bay Baptist Church, ‘Climate Sunday’, 11th April 2021

A Call for Commitment to Creation Care

Order of Service, with times

00: Welcome

05: Song, “O Lord my God” (“How great thou art”), Vs 1 & 2;

08: Bible readings:

a) Praise and celebration: Psalm 104, 1, 10-15, 24;

b) Lament and warning: Isaiah 24, 1, 4-8, 13a;

c) Hope and promise: Luke 4, 16-19; Rev. 22, 1-3.

12: Prayers:

a) Praise and celebration;

b) Lament and confession;

c) Intercession for leaders and politicians;

d) Repentance and Commitment.

17: Song, “Beauty for Brokenness” Vs 1, 4 & 5

20: Address

35: Song, “I will speak out”

38: Lord’s Prayer and Blessing

For details of the service and the address, go to:

“A Call for Commitment to Creation Care”

Posted in What's on | Comments Off on Whitley Bay Baptist Church, ‘Climate Sunday’, 11th April 2021

“A Call for Commitment to Creation Care”

Whitley Bay Baptist Church, ‘Climate Sunday’, 11th April 2021

A Call for Commitment to Creation Care

Details of Service

The service is available online in video and audio at wbbc.org.uk/resources/sermons-3.

Welcome to Whitley Bay Baptist Church and the first of our two ‘Climate Sundays’. This has been organised to alert us to the international climate conference, known as COP26, which is due to take place in Glasgow in November, and to equip us to prepare for that momentous event by prayer and action.

This is a very special time indeed, potentially a ‘Kairos Moment’, a time of special opportunity and blessing for efforts to ward off the monstrous threat to all our children and grandchildren of global heating. The whole Christian community is being called, by the Baptist Union, Tearfund and many others, to come together and with one voice to call for decisive action on this, the greatest moral and humanitarian challenge of our generation.

And this is urgently needed! On ‘Sunday Worship’ on Radio 4 on Sunday 7th March, 19-year old ‘Ruth’ spoke of how “confused and upset” – her words, how “confused and upset” she was by the failure of the church to respond to climate change and she noted that, according to a recent survey, 90% of Christian young people regard this as a serious issue, but only 10% think the church is paying enough attention to it.

In 2005, the Make Poverty History campaign, centred here in Britain and in which Christians took a major role, transformed the lives of countless millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. May God grant that something comparable will take place this year!

Text details of the service are available HERE.

Address

Believing that mere nominal assent to creation care will count for very little in the long run, I hope to provide you with a solid foundation for this principle so that we can build on it and take it forward. Our aim should be that the life and teaching of our church should faithfully reflect what the Apostle Paul described as “The whole counsel of God”.

So first I will ask, “What is the Mission of the Church?”, in broad terms; Second, I will insist that ‘Matters of first importance’ for the Gospel should remain just that; and Third, I will consider the application of Christian discipleship to creation care.

The complete text of the address may be accessed HERE.

Posted in What's on | Comments Off on “A Call for Commitment to Creation Care”