Young climate activists add to calls to halt planned Whitehaven coal mine

Credit: PA

Young climate activists have added their voices to calls on the Government to stop a planned new coal mine in Cumbria.

Ministers have been under pressure over their failure to intervene in the approval of the mine in Whitehaven, which will be used to provide coking coal for steel, on the basis that it is a local decision.

The Government's climate advisers, leading scientists and green groups have criticised the coal mine, which comes in the run-up to the UK hosting the major Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

Now youth activists have help submit a 111,475-signature petition from the Coal Action Network to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking Secretary of State Robert Jenrick to stop the planned mine, which was approved by Cumbria County Council.

Campaigners have criticised the assessment that the greenhouse gases of the mining operations will be carbon-neutral, as the coal would substitute for production elsewhere.

Coal creates carbon dioxide emissions when burned for energy and also when used for steel-making and other industrial processes such as cement.

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick. Credit: PA

The fossil fuel has been largely phased out from electricity generation in the UK, with a target date for ending its use in the power sector altogether by 2025.

But industrial processes also need deeper cuts to carbon to help the UK meet its targets to reduce emissions to zero overall, known as net-zero, by 2050 as part of efforts to prevent dangerous climate change, government advisers have said.

Elijah McKenzie-Jackson, 17, from London, who submitted the petition, said: "In the year where the UK hosts the Cop26 summit, the UK Government must call in and refuse an application to mine coking coal, showing its commitment to decarbonising the steel sector."

Isabella Bridgman, 16, from Cockermouth in Cumbria, said: "I call on the Secretary of State to call in this mine, in recognition that approving such a mine when the UK is set to host Cop26 this year, and has committed to reach carbon neutral by 2050, is not only ridiculous, but actively harmful.

"West Cumbria deserves better than a polluting mine whose existence is unsustainable in the long term due to the UK Government's commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2050.