Tories ‘committed’ to green coal

David Cameron today vowed to prioritise “green coal” in his energy and environment policies if elected to government.

During his visit to China, the Conservative leader said his government would explore how coal-fired power stations can capture the carbon released from coal.

The government dismissed his comments, arguing Mr Cameron was seemingly unaware of ongoing efforts to develop clean coal.

Speaking at Chongqing University, Mr Cameron said a Conservative government would fit all coal power stations with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and hit out at a lack of government progress in the field.

He said: “Right now, at least a dozen CCS pilots are ready to launch around the world.

“But even though we have the depleted oil and gas fields that are ideal for testing this technology, not a single pilot is yet taking place in Britain. We cannot afford this kind of delay.”

Mr Cameron continued: “So I can announce that developing green coal will be a priority for a Conservative government: we will do what it takes to make Britain a world leader in this crucial field.”

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks responded that Mr Cameron had shown a lack of credibility by demonstrating his ignorance of the actions the government claims to be taking to develop clean coal.

Through a £3.5 million contribution to the European Union Near Zero Emissions coal Initiative, the government is part-funding a project in China testing CCS technology.

Mr Wicks said similar projects are currently being investigated in India, while the government has launched a UK competition to construct the world’s first commercial-scale coal-fired CCS project within seven years.

It is hoped this could store up to 90 per cent of carbon emissions.

Mr Wicks continued: “Instead of showing himself up on the international stage, David Cameron should spend his time addressing the lack of support for green energy in the Tory party.

“Only yesterday his energy spokesman was reported as admitting that many Tory MPs are opposed to wind power, which is strengthening Britain’s commitment to renewable energy sources.”