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UK Export Finance: Coal

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 3rd March 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on ending UK export finance for (a) coal-mining and (b) coal-fired power station projects; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The right hon. Gentleman will know that we have announced, with the Department for International Trade, that we will no longer provide any new export finance or new export credit for thermal coalmining or coal-powered plants overseas.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

I am grateful to the Minister for that confirmation. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement at the UK-Africa investment summit, will the Minister set out whether there is going to be a transition period prior to the welcome situation that he has described? Does he agree that UK Export Finance should be promoting the transition away from all fossil fuels in developing countries as soon as possible?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Any form of financing should absolutely take into account our net zero commitment, and it is in the process of doing so. On the question of coal, I take the opportunity to reiterate the fact that the Prime Minister, only last month, announced the intention to consult on bringing forward the coal closure to 1 October 2024. Even last month, only about 3% of our power generation was coming from coal. So this is a very achievable target, and we are very hopeful that we can take coal entirely off the grid by October 2024.

Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby

The move to generate electricity from sources other than coal is very welcome, but some manufacturing processes will still require a supply of coal. Does the Minister agree that it is better for that coal to be supplied from domestic sources rather than being shipped halfway around the world?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend is right. Obviously, from a coal and carbon emissions reduction point of view, it makes sense to have a locally based coal source rather than shipping it in a very costly way halfway around the world. That is a fair point. On the point about coal, the 2024 target is absolutely achievable. It is something we are absolutely committed to doing. In the long run, coal will be taken completely off the power generation grid, and that is something to be celebrated across the whole House.