Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by RJB Mining (UK) Ltd

  RJB Mining (RJB) welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Science and Technology Committee's investigation into Scientific Advice on Climate. RJB Mining (RJB) is Europe's largest unsubsidised coal mining company. It is also Europe's lowest cost deep-mine operator. The Company currently employs over 7,000 people at over 40 locations throughout the UK. RJB produces about 60 per cent of all the coal mined in the UK, from 13 deep-mines and a similar number of opencast sites.

  RJB has a keen interest in the debate on climate change. Coal has the highest carbon content of all fossil fuels and hence is seen as both the cause and answer to "global warming". RJB believes that UK coal should continue to play its part within the Government's energy policy of secure, diverse and sustainable supplies of energy at competitive prices. It is therefore essential that before any evidence is presented to Government which could adversely affect the role of coal within world energy, all research has been critically appraised and potential alternative explanations are presented for consideration. The concept of "climate change" has gathered momentum in recent years and it now appears that it is readily used as the cause for any damage caused by the weather.

  RJB notes that the DETR in its publication "Climate Change and its Impacts", October 1999, states that the global mean surface temperature in 1999 will be substantially cooler than the record year of 1998, although still likely to be one of the highest 10 on record. The understanding and predicting of weather conditions is a complex subject. The cause of the warming trend over the course of this century is still not fully understood. As evidence shows, the climate fluctuated naturally long before industrialisation of the planet and it is possible that we could again be on a natural temperature cycle.

  The UK Government have been at the forefront of promoting greenhouse gas reductions worldwide. In the foreword to the above document, the Secretary of State for the Environment Transport and the Regions states that "evidence is mounting that mankind is affecting the global climate". Within the document no firm evidence is presented, but it goes on to present a series of predictions for the next 350 years which the DETR appears to take as fact. There are no assumptions given and more importantly no warnings as to the uncertainty of the science involved.

  RJB does not wish to be viewed as a Luddite in the area of climate change. It believes that all emissions to atmosphere should be kept to a minimum. To this end, RJB has been trying to obtain funding from the Government for the next generation of clean coal power plant which would reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 per cent, to date without success. However, it is important that a balanced view is presented in all Government documents, recognising the complex nature of the science concerned.

13 January 2000

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