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ClientEarth Communications

5th January 2018

Renewable Energy
Fossil fuels
Clean energy

We must make sure UK coal phaseout does not mean gas lock-in

The UK Government has published a response to its consultation on making a UK-wide phaseout of unabated coal a reality.

Though ClientEarth lawyers are pleased the government has remained firm on its resolve to phase out the dirtiest source of energy, doubts remain over what will swoop in to replace it.

Energy lawyer Sam Bright said: “The government has kept to its commitment to phase out unabated coal generation by 2025, but we aren't convinced that this alone merits its claims to global leadership. Not only are other countries imposing more ambitious sunset dates, we are concerned that the door is left wide open for investments in new, long-term gas capacity, locking us into another generation of fossil fuel power. This contradicts the very rationale of the coal phaseout."

While the phaseout document itself details a clean power future, the accompanying impact assessment pays close attention to the how the gas market may change after coal makes its final exit.

Sam added: “We need to see the clearest possible messages from government on what the clean energy future will look like - beyond coal has to mean beyond gas too.”

2017 saw renewable energy records broken - in April, the UK went its first day since the Industrial Revolution without coal power. Between Christmas and New Year, an unprecedented amount of power - over a fifth of the UK's supply - came from wind farms. A marked shift is underway, as low-carbon sources cost-compete with rapidly outdating fossil fuel generation.