UK Climate efforts are being tested by proposed mines ahead of UN meeting

Most people can see beauty in the patchwork of mountains, lakes, and seas that make up England's northwest corner. Dave Cradduck sees broken dreams.

UK Climate efforts are being tested by proposed mines ahead of UN meeting

The coal mine Cradduck used to work has been closed for many years. The chemical factory, which employed thousands of people, is now gone. The nuclear power plant will be decommissioned.

A plan to build a new coal mine in the area that could create hundreds of jobs for Cradduck, who is 74 years old, is reason for optimism.

Environmentalists are horrified by it. It sends a terrible message, they say, as the United Kingdom hosts world leaders, advocates and diplomats to Glasgow, Scotland for a United Nations Climate Conference that begins Oct. 31. This two-week COP26 meeting will be considered a last chance for carbon-cutting commitments that can limit global warming to manageable levels.

Professor of energy and climate governance at Lancaster University, Rebecca Willis said that the U.K. presents itself as a leader but is actually building a coal mine. It sends a message to the rest of world that the U.K. doesn't really care.

Cradduck believes the mine is a sign that someone is interested in the area. He claims it will provide employment for those who have a history of mining.

The British government faces a dilemma with the proposed new mine. It wants to produce all electricity in the UK from renewable energy sources by 2035 and zero carbon emissions by 2050. Boris Johnson, Conservative Prime Minister, has pledged to increase prosperity in England's north by building new factories, roads and railways. This is contrary to the green agenda of the government.

West Cumbria Mining is a company that plans to build Britain's first coal mine under the Irish Sea. It will process the coal at Whitehaven, which is 340 miles (550 km) northwest of London.

According to the company, this new type of mine is far better than the old, dangerous, brick-and-steel skeletons that dot the landscape. The company's designs show modern, curved buildings that blend into the hills. It claims it will be the first net-zero mine in the world, with all carbon emissions being offset or reduced by credits to the Gold Standard Foundation.

Alexander Greaves, a mining company lawyer, stated that while opening a new mine may seem unattractive at first, the project is meant to be different.

He stated that "Showing these mines could be made by law...to capture greenhouse gas emissions, and required to offset any residual impacts...is true environmental leadership."

This idea is ridiculed by environmentalists.

Maggie Mason, a local opponent to the mine, stated that it was obvious that stopping the opening of new coal mines is the fastest way to reduce carbon emissions. The same applies to oil wells and natural gas wells.

In this area of England, industry and nature have fought for dominance for a long time. Whitehaven is located in the Lake District National Park. This area inspired Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth. The area was once home to many industries, including mines and factories. Today, however, wind turbines are located beside the ocean. This is a sign that Britain has made the transition from fossil fuels and renewable energy. Last year, the country produced nearly half its electricity.

This year, that share fell due to a lack wind. With the price of imported natural gas rising and plans for new nuclear power plants at a crawl and the cost of new coal-fired power plants in the pipeline, the U.K government is still looking into new fossil fuel projects.

There's also the Cambo oilfield, west of Shetland Islands, in the North Atlantic. Here, Shell and Siccar Point Energy intend to extract 170,000,000 barrels of oil. Johnson's administration refuses to intervene in the matter, stating that "sources such as Cambo are still needed" to supply Britain with energy for its transition to a low carbon economy. Environmental groups have tried to get the British government to stop drilling.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary to the House of Commons said that "we need to transition the existing oil and gaz sector to a a decarbonized platform." He also accused Cambo opponents of wanting a "complete eclipse" of the oil-and-gas industries with "250,000 jobs disappearing overnight."

The mine was approved by West Cumbria's local authority one year ago. Mike Starkie, the Conservative mayor of the area, said that it would be "transformational."

Under pressure from environmentalists and British government officials, the British government ordered a planning inspector to investigate in March. He promises to make a recommendation by the end of this year. After COP26 is over, the U.K. government will make a decision.

Local supporters of the mine feel they are the silent majority and face being overthrown by environmental activists. A few protestors gathered at the site with signs reading "Part of the solution, not part of problem" and "Cumbria Coke is the real deal."

John Greasley, who runs a Facebook group in support of the mine, said that "it's been simplified in the media that it's jobs for the climate." "And, ofcourse, the climate will win every time. It's more than that.

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