Don’t delay – ditch coal

Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

January 26, 2017
3 min read

(Photo: Aberthaw power station by Sally Low)

“It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations,” said Amber Rudd in 2015, then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Coal is the greatest historical cause of climate change and currently the government is asking for submissions to its coal phase-out consultation. This could close all UK coal power stations in 2025. But the Coal Action Network say 2025 is too late, power stations must close sooner.

Communities in the UK, Russia and Colombia are breathing the dust from extensive opencast coal mines which power the UK’s remaining nine coal power stations. For those living closest to the mines and the people most directly affected by climate change, 2025 feels very far away. Many of these people’s homes and livelihoods will no longer exist by then.

Amber Rudd also said, “To set an example to the rest of the world, the UK also has to focus on where we can get the biggest carbon cuts, swiftly and cheaply.” Yet the consultation document only mentions coal power stations. We need a complete phase-out. This means ending the London Stock Exchange’s financing of global coal mining companies such BHP Billiton, Glencore and Anglo-American who operate Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia that deprives the surrounding area of water.

The government and power companies are failing coal workers by not acknowledging the inevitable end of the coal industry. In dialogue with the unions they must make appropriate plans to re-train their current, highly skilled, workforce for a green economy. There is no reason for workers to be left on the shelf. Short term there is a clear need for work by to restore the dangerous abandoned coal mines which litter the coal regions in Wales and Scotland. 

The government is currently asking for submissions to its coal phase-out consultation. Members of the public are taking to the streets to make their submissions with their bodies, to say “Don’t delay – ditch coal!” at two upcoming protests.



The first is at Aberthaw power station, South Wales, on Saturday 28 January. Aberthaw kills 400 people a year through its toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) fumes. It is the dirtiest power station in Europe in terms of this pollutant. In the first half of 2016 it emitted almost four times as much NOx as permitted by European Union air quality regulations.

Pollution from Aberthaw contributes to respiratory illnesses for people living across South Wales, and as far away as Bristol and Pool, causing asthma symptoms, bronchitis in children and adults, hundreds of hospital admissions, and low birth weight in babies.

The Coal Action Network, Reclaim the Power, United Valleys Action Group and Bristol Rising Tide are heading to Aberthaw on the 28 January to say “Close Aberthaw – Green Jobs now”.

The consultation closes, 8 February 2017, Coal Action Network will gather outside the Department of Business Enterprise and Industrial Strategy, who will decide the future of coal. 2,900 small clay figurines will be assembled, acknowledging the lives which could be saved every year once we ditch coal.

A broad campaign against the coal industry stopped the last waves of planned new coal power stations. Another can end the industry completely.

For more details about coal and the protests see www.coalaction.org.uk


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Greenwald speaks Trump, War on Terror, and citizen activism
Glenn Greenwald was interviewed by Amandla Thomas-Johnson over the phone from Brazil. Here is what he had to say on the War on Terror, Trump, and the 'special relationship'

Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill

Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out

Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions

Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.

Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.

Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History

Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.

A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas


16