US climate envoy John Kerry warns UK government coal has ‘no future’ amid growing concern over Cumbria mine

Mr Kerry warns UK ministers coal is ‘dirtiest fuel in the world’ amid international concern over Cumbrian mine

Harry Cockburn
Tuesday 09 March 2021 12:25 GMT
John Kerry has warned the world’s worst polluters they need to rapidly curb emissions
John Kerry has warned the world’s worst polluters they need to rapidly curb emissions

Coal has “no future”, US climate envoy John Kerry has warned UK ministers amid growing international concern over plans for a major new coal mine in Cumbria.

Following meetings on the climate crisis with government ministers, Mr Kerry described coal as the “dirtiest fuel in the world”, and urged action from the world’s biggest polluters, including the UK, to rapidly cut emissions.

Mr Kerry told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “The marketplace has made a decision that coal is not the future.”

He added: “All over the world people have made a decision to move to cleaner fuel than coal, which is the dirtiest fuel in the world. In America and elsewhere … most banks will tell you ‘we’re not going to fund a new coal plant’.”

Critics have warned the government’s failure to call in the planning decision on the project undermines its authority as it prepares to host the UN’s Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

While in London, Mr Kerry held meetings with senior members of the UK government including Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the foreign secretary Dominic Raab and president of Cop26 Alok Sharma, as he seeks to build international momentum on taking collective action to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.

Mr Kerry said the 20 top polluting countries create 81 per cent of all our planet’s emissions and urged the UK as well as other large economies to prioritise decarbonisation programmes and deliver emissions cuts.

“China, the US, Russia, India, the EU, Korea, Japan and others all have to be part of this effort,” he said.

“Twenty countries. Eighty one percent of the emissions.”

The visit to the UK ahead of the international summit is the latest sign of a major push by Joe Biden’s government to deal with the climate crisis following the inactivity and stripping of environmental protections seen under Donald Trump’s administration.

Mr Kerry is on a tour of European capital cities in an effort to make contact with governments and build greater levels of ambition before the summit. His trip will also see him meet EU leaders in Brussels, and Emmanuel Macron’s government in Paris.

In April Mr Biden will also host a “leaders summit” on the climate crisis.

Following his meetings in London on Monday, Mr Kerry and Mr Sharma issued a joint statement saying the US and the UK would work closely on the issue, and as well as hitting net zero by 2050 would help other countries reduce their impacts on the environment and adapt to the challenges posed by the changing climate.

They said: “We resolved today to work closely together to reduce our own emissions and to rally all countries, and most especially the world’s major economies, to strengthen their climate ambition.

“President Biden’s upcoming Leaders Summit on Climate and the G7 leaders meeting to be hosted by the UK are both critical opportunities to build momentum on the way to Cop26 in Glasgow.

“Our countries are fully committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. We urge all countries to take the steps needed to keep a 1.5C temperature limit within reach, including through ambitious nationally determined contributions and long-term strategies to cut emissions and reach net zero.

“We also resolved to work with other countries to help the world’s most vulnerable adapt and respond to climate impacts and to scale up finance and private investment for both mitigation and adaptation.

“We also look forward to working with all countries to finalise the Paris Rulebook and successfully advance wider negotiations issues. Strong progress on all of these fronts is critical to ensuring the success we need in Glasgow.”

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