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UK Approves New Coal Mine Despite Climate Change Concerns

The UK government approved Wednesday Japan’s first coal mine in decadesa project promoted as a source of new jobs but criticized as a reversal of efforts to control climate change.

The mine, near Whitehaven on the northwest coast of England, would supply coal to the British and overseas steel industry.

The long-delayed project has been embroiled in years of competing pressure on successive Conservative-led British governments. current prime minister, Rishi Snackwhich recently spoke at the COP27 climate conference about the need to invest in renewable energy, is also pushing to create jobs in areas of northern England that have elected the Conservative Party in hopes of economic growth.

The proposal by West Cumbria Mining originally called for £160 million, or $195 million, to be invested in a mine that would create more than 500 jobs. Coal is not used in power plants, but in the production of steel, an industry that still relies heavily on coal.

The entrance to the mine was built on the site of a former chemical factory, and most of the mine itself is underwater.

Critics say authorizing new coal mines amid concerns over climate change would undermine Britain’s reputation as a world leader on environmental issues. Coal production in the United Kingdom, which was a country, peaked in the early 20th century and then declined. 90 and above in the last ten years.

The decision “sends completely the wrong signal to other countries about the UK’s climate change priorities,” said John Gummer, head of the UK’s Climate Change Commission. “Today’s decision weakens the global influence on climate that the UK has fought so hard,” Gummer, a former Conservative minister, said.

Kate Wilshaw, policy director for Friends of the Lake District, an organization that works to protect nearby scenic areas, said local conservation groups had “legal complaints” about the decision. She said she expects to launch an appeal, which she called a “step back.” ”

Supporters, including local Conservative MPs, say that after decades of relative hardship as coal mines and other industrial facilities closed, they created high-paying jobs and helped rebuild the region. said it would help guide

“This is great for my community and will bring a huge economic boost to my area,” said Mike Starkey, mayor of Copeland, including the proposed mine site.

Proponents like Starkey also say that as long as the world needs coal, Britain may benefit from supplying it. Starkey said he expects work on the mine to begin in the coming months.

Critics say the economic stimulus will be short-lived as the use of coal in steel production will eventually be phased out to avoid the carbon dioxide emissions it creates.

In a lengthy document about approving the mine, senior minister Michael Gove said emissions from the project were “relatively neutral and not material.”

“Evidence suggests there is still a market for coal,” said Gove, who is responsible for supporting the economies of less-prosperous parts of the UK like Whitehaven.

West Cumbria Mining, backed by EMR Capital, a private equity firm based in Australia and Hong Kong, said in a statement:

“We look forward to taking this project to the next phase of delivery and job creation.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/08/business/uk-new-coal-mine.html UK Approves New Coal Mine Despite Climate Change Concerns

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