The government is giving a coat of greenwash to its decision to smash its emissions commitments by giving the go-ahead to a new generation of huge coal-fired power stations. The propaganda focuses on the idea that 25% (in fact the measure says 20 to 25% and we can guess which it will be) of harmful emissions must be captured and stored.
Or to put it another way, the most atmosphere polluting of all electricity generation methods will be pumping out a massive increase to British carbon dioxide emissions, with a 20% mitigation of that vast increase. The even more pathetic aspect of the greenwash figleaf is the claim that 100% of the carbon must be captured by 2025.
If we continue to increase carbon emissions until 2025, the value of any reduction thereafter will be minimal; the situation is urgent and needs to be addressed now, not in sixteen years time. It also relies on a non-existent – and many would say physically impossible – technology. It would have been less of a punt to claim that in 2025 they will be replaced by nuclear fusion.
The problem is that when you combust coal or oil, the carbon dioxide produced, even when expensively compressed to its maximum. has a volume several times greater than that of the original coal or oil. Ideas that you put it back in the hole it came from do not work. Keeping a gas compressed also involves high pressure containment. The idea that this will happen on a massive scale, and that any significant proportion of fossil fuel emissions can be stored, does not even make credible science fiction.
The UK has both abundant renewable energy resources and is a world leader in the technology to exploit them. The failure of the government to look to a major boost to the nascent renewable energy industry for this next wave of electricity generation, may in fact be one of the biggest disasters of New Labour.