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Mark Whitby: why I support the protest against Kingsnorth

New coal power, without carbon capture and storage, is a new generation of a lazy old fashioned technology that is a backward step and signals to the world that whilst prepared to talk the talk on global warming we are not prepared to walk it.

It is encouraging to read of the ICE’s lack of support for Heathrow’s third runway, which, hopefully, is a signal of a more holistic engaging style. However, if it looks ahead, it is perhaps not the best place to be pitching one’s tent. Jim Hansen, the world leading NASA climate scientist, who volunteered his time to defend the protesters at the Kingsnorth coal-fired power station, has made it clear that he will not be coming to the rescue of similar protesters at Heathrow.

What are being drawn up are the battle lines for what is to be a critical stand against global warming, and, whilst Heathrow epitomises runaway carbon, the third runway is not necessarily the devil incarnate as assuming we continue our love affair with flying, it is about delivering reducing the time spent stacking and hence lower emissions.

Why the protest against Kingsnorth is so much more important is that, without carbon capture and storage, it is a new generation of a lazy old fashioned technology that is a backward step and signals to the world that whilst prepared to talk the talk on global warming we are not prepared to walk it.

With oil supply peaking and with immense accessible coal stocks one can see why the focus should be on coal. The need is now and we have to show leadership and demonstrate how we can responsibly move forward, reducing carbon emissions as the same time as meeting energy needs.

Everybody is looking to see how US President Obama will react to his scientists’ urgent advice to curtail America’s own recent coal rush, but, in the UK, reverting back to business as usual before North Sea gas and the signal it will send is the prescription for planetary disaster, that heralds the ‘Age of Stupid[1]’.

That we know how dangerous the situation is and are seemingly impotent is not going unnoticed, and behind the scenes of political and professional debate a movement is growing that will decimate any company that engages in Kingsnorth. Already, you can visit on YouTube and see the disruption that greets Kingnorth’s developers at career fairs, which are just the tip of the iceberg. What professionals and companies engaging in new coal face is being frozen out not only by the emerging generation of engineers but also by ‘considerate’ business on a scale that will make the fallout from Tywford Down a picnic. Anybody who would like to remember who built that should note that following the event, Tarmac were sufficiently rocked to change their name to Carillion and appoint the green guru Jonathan Porritt as an external advisor. They still describe the experience as their ‘wake up call’.

[1] The film, the Age of Stupid, premieres nationally on 15 March 2009

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