Climate change: As Longannet power station chimney falls, we must rise to challenge as never before – Scotsman comment

When it began operating in 1970, Longannet was the largest coal-fired power station in Europe.

The 600ft chimney at the former Longannet coal-fired power station is demolished (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The 600ft chimney at the former Longannet coal-fired power station is demolished (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The 1970s were heady days for the industry. While many will mostly remember the strikes, a National Coal Board recruitment ad of the time encouraged people to “be a miner” because “people will always need coal”.

Yesterday, however, ScottishPower projected the slogan “Make Coal History” onto the side of the chimney of its own former power station at Longannet before Nicola Sturgeon, no less, pressed the button that blew it up.

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While the plant closed in 2016, the removal of the towering structure, which dominated views of the Firth of Forth for miles around, was a symbolic moment.

“Watching the chimney of Scotland's last coal-fired station fall today represents a real milestone, as the UK moves away from the large polluting power stations of the past and accelerates down the road to net-zero emissions. We already know the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is essential to minimise the worst impacts of global warming and address the climate emergency.”

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These are not words of Sturgeon, a scientist or an environmental campaigner, but of Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, a company which not so long ago relied heavily on fossil fuels.

Some may doubt that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero in less than three decades and the scale of the task, particularly decarbonising home heating, is indeed huge.

However, the human spirit is not naturally defeatist and the rewards for the pioneers of the burgeoning green industrial revolution will be immense. As Longannet falls, it’s time to rise to the challenge as never before.

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