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Government labelled "climate criminal" over Kingsnorth

Government labelled "climate criminal" over Kingsnorth

Campaigners from developing world write to Ed Miliband urging him to impose moratorium on coal plants or risk condemnation from poorer nations

A coalition of environmental and anti-poverty campaigners has today warned the government that its credibility among developing nations at international climate change negotiations will be "shot to pieces" if it authorises controversial plans for a new coal-fired power plant at Kingsnorth in Kent.

In an open letter to energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband, representatives of more than 40 developing countries brought together by campaign group the World Development Movement urged the government to impose a ban on all new coal-fired plants built without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology or risk being seen as a "climate criminal" by the developing world.

"New coal power stations in the UK will exacerbate the impact of climate change on impoverished communities in the global south and prevent the UK from developing sustainable ways of creating a low-carbon economy that could be used elsewhere in the world," the letter states. "A decision to support new coal power stations will confirm the UK as a climate criminal in the international climate change negotiations."

Murray Benham, head of campaigns at the World Development Movement, said that approving the plans for Kingsnorth in their current form would also seriously undermine the government's standing at this year's international climate change negotiations.

"Any international credibility the UK has for putting climate change targets into law will be shot to pieces by another decision in favour of a carbon emitting monster," he said. "The World Development Movement has calculated that a new power station at Kingsnorth would create 30,000 climate refugees across the world. Campaigners from the developing world are clear this is unjust, and Ed Miliband cannot allow it to happen."

The government has hinted that it is likely to approve the plans for a new plant at Kingsnorth in the coming months, arguing that the plant would be in the running to secure government funding to fit CCS technologies and that its inclusion in the EU's emissions trading scheme means E.ON, the plant's operator, will be under pressure to cut emissions from the site in the long term.

However, the letter argues that the government's proposals for a CCS " demonstration" project do not go far enough and claims that efforts to incorporate coal-fired plants in the carbon market and allow them to buy carbon credits through the UN's Clean Development Mechanism, have "continuously had negative impacts on communities in the global south while failing to cut emissions".

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