Britain indicates phase-out of coal power plants
Britain is to signal the winding down of polluting coal-fired power plants, indicating they should be replaced with gas and nuclear stations, according to pre-released parts of a Wednesday speech.
"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," Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd is to say.
"Let me be clear: this is not the future."
It comes as Britain struggles to meet its energy needs as its power capacity has dwindled due to plant closures, while it is under pressure to adopt cleaner energy sources to curb climate change.
Rudd is to say that more investment will be made in nuclear energy, and that coal plants could be replaced with new gas-burning power stations.
"One of the greatest and most cost-effective contributions we can make to emission reductions in electricity is by replacing coal-fired power stations with gas," Rudd will say.
"Gas is central to our energy-secure future. In the next 10 years, it's imperative that we get new gas-fired power stations built."
While gas is less polluting than coal, environmentalists warn that burning gas still releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide and recommend investment in renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power instead.
"Phasing out coal - if that's what's being suggested - is essential for the climate," said Simon Bullock, senior energy campaigner for environmental group Friends of the Earth.
"But switching from coal to gas is like an alcoholic switching from two bottles of whisky a day to two bottles of port."
It comes as countries prepare to meet in Paris at the end of the month for the UN Conference of Parties (COP21), aimed to forge an international deal to curb carbon emissions and stave off the worst effects of global warming.
Scientists warn that unless global warming is tackled, the world will have to deal with submerged cities, heatwaves, droughts, and huge refugee crises due to rising seas and the effects of extreme weather on harvests.
© 2015 AFP