Longreads

Coal once fueled the British Empire, yet with little industry pushback the United Kingdom announced plans to stop burning it by 2025. Carolyn Beeler of Public Radio International chronicles the decision’s instigating events including divisive strikes, climate change awareness, and a levy on coal usage. Digging through this history unearths a glowing ember remaining staunchly reliant upon coal: The United States.

The announcement signaled the dethroning of King Coal in a country where it had reigned for more than a century, and where just six years prior it provided more than 40 percent of the nation’s energy.

By the turn of the millennium, environmentalist and lawmaker Baroness Bryony Worthington says, the issue of climate change was starting to work its way into the UK’s politics.  “There was a real sea-change in attitude toward climate change,” says Worthington, who today is a member of the House of Lords and heads the Environmental…

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