UK coal closures good for climate and air quality

Of the UK’s remaining 11 coal power stations, five have announced they will close this year. These five coal power stations alone emitted 32 million tonnes of CO₂ in 2014, equal to six per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions. They also emitted 18 per cent of the country’s sulphur dioxide emissions, seven per cent of the nitrogen oxides, and 527 kg of mercury. Their health damage from 2008 to 2012 was assessed by the European Environment Agency, and calculated to be between €5.5 and 17.5 billion. The remaining six coal power stations emit even more CO₂ – equal to ten per cent of the UK’s total GHG emissions in 2014. In addition, they emitted a further 13 per cent of the SO₂ and 11 per cent of the NOx in 2013. Their health impacts were also slightly higher, at €6.4 to 20.8 billion from 2008 to 2012. It is for these reasons that it is necessary to ensure the UK Government legislates to phase out coal by 2025 at the latest. That is almost ten years away, which is surely plenty of time to build enough renewables, gas power stations, electricity storage, interconnectors and demand response capability, to ensure we can at last phase-out dirty coal forever.

Source:, 9 February 2016.

In this issue