Just a month after relinquishing the COP presidency, the UK has taken the perverse decision to approve the opening of the country's first new coal mine in 30 years. This comes despite climate change ambitions - with the feeble argument that it doesn't stop the UK from reaching net zero by 2050 because the mine will be decommissioned in 2049 - and despite there being no clear domestic market for coal (industrial sectors like steel that this mine would be aimed at servicing having started to move away from coking coal, and have no commercial commitment to buying from within the UK even where there is still a need - British Steel has indicated that it will not use the coal mine due to its high levels of sulphur).  

As somebody concerned about my children's future in the face of unmitigated climate change and biodiversity loss, this decision frightens me. The ambition to hold global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees - already in jeopardy - has been shown to be dependent on there being no new oil, gas or coal explorations. This decision flies in the face of climate science.  

As a lawyer, it astonishes me that this decision, given the promises that our Government has made to tackle this country's contributions to climate change, is even lawful at all. That it is a lawful decision (even potentially, though we can fully expect environmental groups to raise any challenge available to them to the decision) makes clear how disjointed our legal system is - with climate commitments on the one hand which do not adequately interface with planning laws and processes, and the commitment to 'sustainable development' on the other. Reform is needed - and now - to ensure that decisions like this are no longer possible.