TORONTO — Canada announced Monday that it will accelerate its plan to virtually eliminate traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030, a stance contrasting sharply with that of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to revive the sector.
Canada’s Liberal government ran on a platform to do more for the environment. Its coal-cutting plan would help it meet the emissions reduction targets of the Paris climate agreement, which Parliament ratified last month.
South of the border, Trump (R) has vowed to ease the regulatory burden on all fossil fuel producers, including coal.
Globally, more than 2,400 coal power plants are under construction or are being planned, experts say. Two-thirds are in China and India, according to a report by a dozen poverty and development organizations.
Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Canada’s coal regulation, which accelerates an existing phaseout timetable, will take into account the positions of provinces, some of which have resisted the federal government’s plans to counter climate change.
Four provinces still burn coal for electricity — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick — but the first already has a coal-cutting plan with a similar timeline.
Meeting the coal-cutting targets will be hard for those provinces as the transition may be costly, even with the flexibility the federal government granted, said Joe Aldina, director for U.S. coal for the PIRA Energy Group.
But certain industries will probably benefit as provinces look for energy in new areas or further explore existing ones, he said.
“British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba have really significant hydro resources,” Aldina said. “I’d expect a mix of natural gas and renewables to benefit.”
Under Canada’s plan, some plants will be allowed to stay open if equivalent emission reductions are achieved elsewhere, McKenna said.
“Eighty percent of Canada’s electricity already comes from non-emitting sources,” she said. “Our goal is to make Canada’s electricity 90 percent non-emitting by 2030.”
Ed Whittingham, executive director at the Alberta-based Pembina Institute, welcomed the government’s move and called for the government to require 100 percent clean electricity supply by 2050.
Canada’s existing plan to phase out coal power was announced in 2010, under the Conservative government. The move was welcomed by some in the industry, including TransAlta Corp., the country’s largest operator.
A TransAlta spokeswoman said the company is unaffected by the new announcement, citing Alberta’s existing plan.