Plans for new coal-fired power stations should be put on hold until methods to capture carbon emissions are better developed, a thinktank has urged.
The IPPR wants the UK to lead a two-year Europe-wide freeze on the stations.
It claims that the European Union's goal of reducing emissions from the power sector and heavy industry by 21 per cent by 2020 through its emissions trading scheme is endangered by proposals for seven new coal plants in the UK.
On Monday, the government published a consultation on the legislative framework for carbon capture and storage (CCS) - a method of preventing carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations reaching the atmosphere.
While the IPPR believes CCS has the potential to cut carbon emissions from coal plants by up to 90 per cent, it says that at current rates of development the technology will not be ready until after 2020.
As well as a halt on new coal stations, the IPPR wants the government to accelerate the timetable for CCS and the EU to develop a new directive on CCS as part of the energy and climate package, with a concrete timetable and financing for the EU's goal of 12 demonstration plants.
"The government says that the EU's carbon trading scheme is the central pillar of its climate policy, not only for reducing emissions but also for building a global climate change agreement," said report author Matthew Lockwood, IPPR senior research fellow.
"However, that pillar is still weak, and IPPR's report shows that the scheme would collapse in the event of a new coal rush. Europe needs to do two things urgently - freeze conventional coal investment until we get greater certainty, and accelerate the development of new carbon capture technologies."
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