Canada a leader among G20 for plan to phase out coal, says report

Canada a leader among G20 for plan to phase out coal, says report

Canada is one of the world's leaders when it comes to phasing out the use of coal power, according to a global report, that shows the country substantially reduced its energy supply from coal over a five-year period.

Canada — along with European countries France, Italy and the U.K. — lead the group of G20 countries when it comes to plans compatible with the Paris Agreement to phase out coal by 2030, said Climate Transparency in the report. The agency is made up of 14 global environmental groups that track climate action among the G20.

"In 2018, the federal government of Canada amended its regulations to accelerate a coal phase-out by 2030 for the whole country," the report said. "This followed the Canadian government's leadership in establishing the Powering Past Coal Alliance in November 2017, together with the U.K. government."

The report is referring to the announcement made by the federal government last year to speed up the transition from traditional coal power to clean energy in an effort to reduce carbon pollution by 16 million tonnes in 2030.

The report also showed that Canada reduced its absolute energy supply from coal by 13 per cent in the five-year period between 2012 and 2017. That follows bigger reductions by the U.K., Italy, France, the European Union and the U.S. in the G20. Nine countries in the group, mainly in Asia, actually saw their energy supply from coal increase in the same time. 

Overall, absolute energy supply from coal in the G20 only fell by 0.9 per cent over the five years.

"In Canada, a planned phase-out of coal-fired power plants, particularly in … Ontario, has led to decreasing coal consumption," the report said. "The new government absorbed the cost of the phase-out and combined it with an overall reform of the electricity sector and with promoting renewable energy."

Ontario phased out coal power generation by 2014 by shutting all coal-fired plants.

The report added that most G20 countries are currently still building, or plan to build more coal power plants.

"G20 governments continue to provide at least $39 billion US of government support per year for the production of coal, including coal-fired power," the report said.

'Low' rating for renewable energy

While Canada ranks high when it comes to phasing out coal, it lags other G20 countries when it comes to replacing that power with renewable energy.

Canada was ranked in the "low" category, along with Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and the U.S., when it came to targets and adequate policy for renewable energy.

"Canada has a high share of hydropower in its electricity mix, but has not set itself a 100 per cent renewable target, and the share of other renewable sources is still very low," the report said. "Responsibility for renewable support schemes lies at the provincial level."

Renewable energy accounted for just over 17 per cent of Canada's total energy supply, according to government data from 2016.