Coal’s Welsh Comeback

An AP story a couple of days ago is a reminder of why I’m so pessimistic about the possibility of effective climate change mitigation. People want energy, and they want it cheap. The story opens with a young Welsh man, whose father and grandfather worked the mines:

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard there were jobs down the pit again,” said Gary Williams, an 18-year-old apprentice at the Unity mine. “My dad was a miner. His old man was a miner, everyone we knew was a miner, but he told me not to think of going down the mines. He said it would never happen.”

This, from a nation that is a Kyoto signatory:

Europe’s energy goals are changing. It is growing nervous about being so dependent on Russian energy. Nuclear power remains a hard sell, and many of Britain’s 10 nuclear power stations are nearing the end of their natural life.

Enter coal — cheap, plentiful and easily stored. Europe holds a third of the world’s reserves, and to many, coal-fired power stations seem a good idea again. Britain plans to open seven new coal-fired electricity plants. One application has been formally submitted, and if successful, will lead to Britain’s first new coal-fired power station in 24 years.