The UK-based international development agency Christian Aid has called on the government to impose a moratorium on the building of any new, conventional coal-fired power stations following council approval for the first such station for almost quarter of a century.
Christian Aid says there is no realistic prospect of Britain meeting its target of carbon emission cuts, which the prime minister has promised to look at increasing from 60% to 80% by 2050, if Kingsnorth station, near Rochester, Kent, goes ahead.
Government approval for the project would open the door to at least another six such stations around the United Kingdom.
Energy company E.ON says the new station it wants to build would be 20% cleaner than the one it replaces. Last night Medway Council gave the plan the green light, despite receiving more than 9,000 public objections, but final approval rests with the government.
Christian Aid campaigns editor Andrew Hogg said today: "We were very encouraged by the vision of a low-carbon Britain outlined by the prime minister late last year.Britain was also a powerful voice urging carbon emission cuts at the UN climate change conference in Bali."
He continued: "However, the government’s public stance will be seen as empty rhetoric if Kingsnorth gets the go-ahead and ushers in a new generation of coal fired power stations. Even the lower target of 60% cuts will remain elusive if the UK fails to implement appropriate policies now."
Mr Hogg went on: "The proposed new station will emit more than 7 million tones of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, more than 10 times the entire annual emissions of a country like Rwanda."
"People in poorer countries such as Rwanda are already suffering as a result of climate change. In the absence of technology to remove CO2 from power station emissions, the UK government should place a moratorium on new coal plants", he said.
Concluded the Christian Aid spokesperson: "Reliance on coal will squeeze out many of the alternatives the government will need to meet the targets it has set for the use of renewable energy. A stronger focus on renewable energy would reverse that, and put Britain in a better position to share that technology with poorer countries in the near future."
Christian Aid is an international development agency working in around 50 countries with people of all religions and none. It supports I Count, the UK's largest campaign on climate change involving over 60 organisations and a supporter base of 4 million plus.
I Count (www.icount.org.uk) seeks to show the public and politicians that all our actions on climate change count. The campaign backs a Climate Change Bill with a carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050.