“The U.K. sets itself out as a leader, but it’s building a coal mine, which is the most polluting thing that you can do,” said Rebecca Willis, professor of energy and climate governance at Lancaster University. “It sends a signal to the rest of the world that the U.K. isn’t actually serious.”

In the patchwork of hills, lakes and sea that makes up England’s northwest corner, most people see beauty. Dave Cradduck sees broken dreams, the Associated Press reports.

The coal mine where Cradduck once worked has long closed. The chemical factory that employed thousands is gone. The nuclear power plant is being decommissioned.

For the 74-year-old Cradduck, a plan for a new coal mine that could bring hundreds of jobs is cause for hope.

But environmentalists view it with horror. They say it sends a disastrous message as the United Kingdom welcomes world leaders, advocates, diplomats and scientists to Glasgow, Scotland, for a United Nations climate conference that starts Oct. 31. The two-week COP26 meeting is considered a last chance to nail down carbon-cutting promises that can keep global warming within manageable limits.

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