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What Does The BBC Expect Svalbard To Do When Its Coal Mine Is Shut?

October 28, 2022

By Paul Homewood


There is a back story to that BBC report about Svalbard.

Svalbard has been mining coal since the early 1900s. The last remaining mine is scheduled to shut in three years time purely to help Norway reduce emissions. The BBC knows which side it is on:

if the fastest-warming place on earth can’t give up fossil fuels, what hope for everywhere else?”

It is of course deeply ironic that Svalbard’s climate was just as mild when these mines opened as it is now!

Most of the coal produced goes to Svalbard’s coal power station, which provides just about all of the island’s electricity, as well providing district heating in Longyearbyen. The rest of the coal is exported to European steel mills. So just what does the BBC propose the islanders do for heating and electricity when there is no more coal? Most likely they will have to import it, although there are also plans to burn oil instead. Either way emissions will increase rather then decrease.

In the longer run, there is a crackpot plan to use hydrogen, which would be produced by electrolysis from surplus wind power in Finnmark, hundreds of miles away. This wind power does not actually exist at the moment, so more wind farms would have to be built there. And the resulting hydrogen would have to be shipped, involving more cost and emissions.

Other plans involve building a long, extremely expensive undersea cable or using LNG.

All of these plans would be much more expensive than Svalbard’s coal power, and would inevitably take years to implement. In the meantime, maybe the BBC would like Svalbarders to burn whale oil, as their ancestors did in the past. Hey, at least it’s “renewable”, though I doubt even the BBC would call it “green”!

But the ultimate irony is that, as the BBC report, tourism is now the main source of income for Svalbard. Instead of demanding that Svalbarders give up their coal, maybe the BBC should campaign for an end to emission spewing tourist flights to Svalbard and other Arctic and Antarctic locations, so popular with eco-loons.

  1. Curious George permalink
    October 28, 2022 7:16 pm

    That’s what happens when BBC is paid whether they lie or speak truth.

  2. Harry Passfield permalink
    October 28, 2022 7:26 pm

    Brilliant take-down, Paul. Well said!

  3. petroalbion permalink
    October 28, 2022 7:31 pm

    But will the Russians shut their coal mine? In Barentsburg, about 80 kilometers from the Norwegian mine, the Russian state production company Arktikugol operates another coal mine and coal fired power plant

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 28, 2022 8:02 pm

      Good point. The Russians get the wet blob in the West to close Svalbard’s mine so that they can supply coal from their mine just up the road. Climate activists are scammers when it comes down to it…

  4. Liardet Guy permalink
    October 28, 2022 8:07 pm

    Why am I paying for this inaccurate political propaganda?

    • October 28, 2022 8:34 pm

      Sorry, which text are you referring to? Have you been to Svalbard and seen the mines?

      • Orde Solomons permalink
        October 29, 2022 9:38 am

        I toured Svalbard in 2016 by boat. Visited Barentsburg, it was like going back in time to the CCCP. Marvelled at the small, rusting Russian hovercraft they had on display on the quay.

      • Dick Goodwin permalink
        October 29, 2022 7:03 pm

        When I visited Barentsburg many years ago, you could have halved global emissions by getting rid of the bus that took you from the quay to the main buildings.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      October 28, 2022 8:53 pm

      I think Liardet is referring to the BBC.

    • Curious George permalink
      October 28, 2022 10:52 pm

      How much did you pay?

  5. ThinkingScientist permalink
    October 28, 2022 8:52 pm

    Never forget it was the oil industry that saved the whales.

  6. Gamecock permalink
    October 28, 2022 10:12 pm

    “if the fastest-warming place on earth can’t give up fossil fuels, what hope for everywhere else?”

    Good to see the BBC doing comedy again.

    • 4 Eyes permalink
      October 28, 2022 11:33 pm

      That’s what I thought. What an incredibly stupid comment from the BBC. It is not journalism. It’s not even activism – it just plain dumb and should embarass real journalists.

  7. Martin Brumby permalink
    October 28, 2022 11:30 pm

    I’ve never been lucky enough to visit Svalbard, but I have friends who were working at Longyearbyen for over a year, some underground, some erecting steel structures for coal conveyors and ship loaders and so on.

    They confirm it was a trifle chilly and none of them were effete pathetic specimens like our chums the “protestors”.

    They had an unusual (and cost saving) approach to erecting the steelwork on suitable foundations. So, for a large structure they would first dig a big hole to the correct depth. They would then carefilly strut the steelwork in exactly the correct line, level etc.

    They then fetched tankers of water and filled the hole. Job done.

    Notwithstanding the BBC and the new pastor in Longyearbyen, they laughed when I asked if they were concerned the dirty great blocks of ice were likely to melt any time soon.

  8. Ben Vorlich permalink
    October 29, 2022 7:38 am

    In past times they would have become Climate Migrants and gone to live somewhere warmer. Like tens of thousands of Britons living in Spain

  9. October 29, 2022 8:44 am

    Ah, the old “everywhere is warming faster than the average” con!

  10. Gerry, England permalink
    October 29, 2022 11:56 am

    I think I can see why the mine might be closing. It says it exports most of the coal to European steel mills – how many of those will be left in 3 years time?

  11. John Brown permalink
    October 29, 2022 6:09 pm

    Such a large and fast increase in temperature, not matched elsewhere we are told, is surely proof that CO2 cannot be responsible? Is it not possible that we are seeing an example of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation as I see that this phenomenon was at a minimum around 1970 and at a maximum around 2020 which matches with the “4 degrees in 50 years” reported? I see that the temperature of Reykjavik rose nearly 3.5 degrees C between 1980 and 2020.

  12. russellseitz permalink
    October 30, 2022 6:39 am

    Britain , not to be confused with the BBC, naturally expects Svalbard to do as it did for a hundred million years before the coal there was discovered, and has continued to do for the last decade:

    Laugh at the ignoramus who inflicts this silly blog on our attention.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      October 30, 2022 8:48 am

      I really do not understand the point you are trying to make here. Who exactly are you saying is “the ignoramus who inflicts this silly blog on our attention.”?

      • October 31, 2022 7:36 am

        Russell Seitz is the epitome of the devoted alarmist. It’s a surprise that his drum hasn’t worn out given how long he’s been banging it. Ignore him.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        October 31, 2022 10:13 am

        Thanks for the heads up Dave. I suspected as much but wanted him to spell it out. That way I could forward it to his institution to show what a tw@t he is and make like as difficult as possible for a charlatan like him. If he wants to be deliberately and totally unjustifiably offensive to others he can only expect a justified return reaction.
        I personally find it pathetic that someone claiming of alleged academia operates to his standards.
        For those who want to drop him a line

      • russellseitz permalink
        October 31, 2022 6:23 pm

        The first ignoramus is the one who, oblivious to the expression ‘Coals to Newcastle’ failed to note the superfluity of Arctic coal after ships switched to fuel oil and Russian gas pipelines reached Archangel and Murmansk.

        The second is the one who seconded the first, and for the same reasons.

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