White House ‘delighted’ by UK coal move

The United Kingdom said Wednesday that it would join the United States in largely halting funding for coal plant construction in developing nations, drawing cheers from the White House.

“It is completely illogical for countries like the U.K. and the U.S. to be decarbonizing our own energy sectors while paying for coal-fired power plants to be built in other countries,” U.K. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said at United Nations climate talks in Poland.

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U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden applauded the move.

“We are delighted that the United Kingdom is joining the United States in shifting public financing toward cleaner energy sources. This is an important component of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, and we look forward to working with the UK to encourage other countries to implement similar polices,” she said in a statement.

The U.S. policy is part of the White House second-term climate plan rolled out in June. In late October the Treasury Department spelled out how it will work with World Bank and other multilateral development institutions on the policy.

The U.S. ban would not apply to “the most efficient coal technology available in the world’s poorest countries in cases where no other economically feasible alternative exists,” or plants that trap carbon emissions, according to the White House plan.

Davey said the United Kingdom would follow a similar model.

“Like the U.S., the U.K. recognizes that there will be exceptions. We need to take account of new technologies such as Carbon Capture Storage and the very poorest countries where there are no alternatives. But many developing countries will soon find solar and similar energy technologies will become cheaper not just cleaner,” he said.

The World Bank said in July that it would only support new coal plants in “rare” cases, such as “meeting basic energy needs in countries with no feasible alternatives.”

Nordic nations say they’re adopting the policy too.