Canada announced on Monday it will virtually eliminate the use of 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, and Parliament last month ratified the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions.
South of the border, the Republican Trump 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 being planned, experts say. Two-thirds of those are in China and India, according to a report by a dozen poverty and development organizations.
Countries phasing out coal include France, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria, Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told reporters in Ottawa.
She said Canada’s coal regulation, which accelerates an existing phase-out 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.
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.”
Certain industries will likely benefit from coal-cutting as provinces look into new areas for energy, said Joe Aldina, director for U.S. coal for PIRA Energy Group.
“It would require new investments in provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan,” he said. “I’d expect a mix of natural gas and renewables to benefit.”
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 of coal-fired plants, and Capital Power Corp, which has three coal-fired units in Alberta.
A TransAlta spokeswoman said the company is unaffected by the announcement, citing Alberta’s existing plan.
Data show Canada has little chance of meeting its climate change goals, in part because of booming emissions from the energy sector. (Reporting by Ethan Lou; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)