One of the big arguments of the climate change lobby is that environmental and energy security concerns lead us to the same conclusions.  Nigel Lawson took issue with this recently in an exchange of views with Oliver Letwin.  He noted that many countries (including Britain) have plentiful supplies of coal and those nations include our closest friends, Australia and Canada.  Using coal addresses many of our energy security worries but coal is, of course, unacceptable to the environmentalists. 

Anti-coal views haven’t stopped fifty new coal-fired power plants being commissioned across Europe.  Italy, in particular, is planning a rapid increase in its use of coal.  Arthur Scargill popped up recently to make the case for coal versus nuclear.  It’s a false choice.  Nuclear power plants should be part of our energy mix.  John McCain agrees and so, more surprisingly, does Angela Merkel.  Germany’s Chancellor wants to stop the closure of Germany’s nuclear power stations – a policy adopted by Gerhard Schroeder’s Green-SDP administration.

The key question is whether coal can be clean or clean enough.  This morning’s Times reports on German efforts to develop clean coal technologies.  It also notes the enormous commercial rewards for the corporates or nations that develop these technologies first.  A leader in The Times concludes: "The race for clean coal is on. The British need to catch up."

Alan Duncan comments:

"The Germans and the Swedes are to be congratulated on this
experiment but it’s a depressing indication of how we have ceded
international leadership on this critical technology.

cannot get a starker demonstration of the poverty of Labour’s thought
on energy policy than their handling of carbon capture and storage. Not
only did their dithering frighten away a joint CCS experiment at
Peterhead between BP and Scottish & Southern, but now their
confusion has led E.On to postpone their decision on a new
supercritical coal plant at Kingsnorth. The Government’s attitude has
set back our ability to deploy this technology by as much as a decade
and, as elsewhere, is making Britain an increasingly unattractive place
to invest."

"The fact
is that Britain is a country that is almost uniquely equipped to take
advantage of CCS technology. The North Sea is the ideal repository for
carbon emissions, we have a healthy manufacturing sector and an energy
industry that is (for the moment at least) ready to make major
investments in Britain. With China and India leading a world revival in
coal burning, CCS is not only an enormous economic opportunity for the
UK, but also an environmental necessity.  This is why we have pledged
to fund a minimum of three CCS plants here in the UK. That’s the sort
of policy ambition that UK plc needs to secure competitive advantage in
the new energy economy."

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