Canada speeds up plan to eliminate coal by 2030

Canada is accelerating its plans to phase out coal-based energy generation by 2030 in a bid to meet the emissions reduction targets of the Paris Agreement.

The Liberal government, chosen partly on a platform of doing more for the environment, says the coal-axing plan will take into account the conditions in each Canadian province, some of which have resisted the phase-out.

According to the Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, the government will support the transition away from coal by using the Canada Infrastructure Bank public-private funding mechanism.

"Our goal is to make Canada's electricity 90% non-emitting by 2030,” McKenna told Reuters.

The North American country’s stance on coal is radically different from its southern neighbour US, where President-elect Donald Trump vowed to roll back on environmental regulation to make life easier for fossil fuel producers.

Four out of Canada’s ten provinces and territories – Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick – will be allowed to keep burning coal for electricity if equivalent emission reductions are achieved elsewhere.

Other areas, like British Columbia, Quebec, and Manitoba, have ample hydro resources, and natural gas and renewable generation are expected to experience a boost due to the new regulations.

Mixed response

Canada’s provinces had varying responses to the government’s plans.

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia welcomed the announcement, with the latter's premier announcing a separate cap-and-trade system to regulate emissions, conforming with a federal plan on the matter.

Alberta's Climate Change Minister Shannon Phillips said the province is unaffected as it already has a coal-cutting plan with the same timeline.

Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall, who has long been resistant to federal plans for a price on carbon, said McKenna's government has violated a commitment to work with provinces on environment matters.

"Saskatchewan will be evaluating both the environmental and the economic impact on our province," he said.

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