Britain will shut polluting coal-fired power plants by 2025, its government said Wednesday ahead of November’s key UN climate change talks in Paris.
All coal power stations that do not have the technology to capture carbon emissions will be closed within ten years, the government said in a statement, in line with its pledge to phase out coal.
Environmentalists gave the announcement a cautious welcome, but warned that the government planned to switch to gas, rather than cleaner technology like wind or solar power.
The news comes before the UN Conference of Parties (COP21) summit, due in Paris from November 30 to December 11, where world leaders aim to forge an international deal to curb carbon emissions and stave off the worst effects of global warming.
Coal is widely regarded as the power source responsible for most carbon emissions.
“We are tackling a legacy of underinvestment and ageing power stations which we need to replace with alternatives that are reliable, good value for money, and help to reduce our emissions,” said British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd.
“It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations.
“Let me be clear: this is not the future.”
Britain already plans to close three of its 12 coal power stations by 2016, so Wednesday’s announcement relates to the nine other facilities.
Those coal plants equipped with carbon capture systems will however continue to operate.