Burying coal.

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nonewcoal.jpgThere's an awful lot of work going on outside office hours ahead of the election, and this week we were reminded what it's all about. 

On Wednesday we circulated a paper calling into question the practicality of carbon capture and storage: in it the Economideses conclude that "underground carbon dioxide sequestration via bulk CO2 injection is not feasible at any cost".

With Labour having a sensible but uncontroversial motion about climate change up for debate on Thursday, Patrick then moved an amendment to add the following text at the end (his speech here):

", and also opposes new unabated coal power capacity, and therefore calls on the Scottish Government to reject plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston given that large-scale CCS at existing coal or gas plants has never been successfully demonstrated."

Ministers went into panic mode. Despite having themselves laid the groundwork for a possible judicial review by ramming Hunterston into the National Planning Framework 2 after consultation, they decided they could not vote or speak to this issue or whip their MSPs (more on this later).

At this point I thought there was a chance we might win the vote but more or less by default. But at 5pm we got an absolute majority in Parliament, with Patrick's amendment carried by 66 to 26, with 10 abstentions (that doesn't include Ministers, who simply didn't vote).

It's exceptionally significant, perhaps the biggest policy win of this Parliamentary session. The plant proposed would have just a quarter of its pollution captured, even assuming that proves feasible, and it's hard now to see it going ahead. 

That would first require investors to have confidence in the plant, and they're unlikely to if Parliament doesn't. Even if they press on, it'd require SNP Ministers in a minority administration to take a decision against the clear will of Parliament. As Sir Humphrey put it, that would be "a brave decision, Minister".

But the vote goes beyond that - it expresses a clear will against all new unabated coal capacity, not just that proposed for Hunterston. Given there's no majority in Parliament for nuclear either, this is a very clear course set for clean renewable energy as the basis for Scotland's future energy supply. It's also an outcome which more than justifies all the campaigning Greens are doing across the country.


Proposing to some project which is has unclear outcome is like taking risk. However, if this means that renewable energy will be the outcome nothing wrong about taking the consequence. Taking a full confident to succeed is really a must during investing.


Blog: remerciement anniversaire 

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This page was published on March 20, 2010 3:31 PM.

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