Anti-coal group gets fired up — but with­out the big cul­prits

Ottawa Citizen - - FP OTTAWA - GE­OF­FREY MOR­GAN

Canada and the U.K. will lead a coali­tion of 20 coun­tries plan­ning to phase out the use of coal-fired power by 2030, though a hand­ful of the coun­tries in the group burn no coal.

Canada’s En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna and U.K. Min­is­ter of State for Cli­mate Change and In­dus­try Claire Perry an­nounced the for­ma­tion Thurs­day of a group of coun­tries that had agreed to phase out coal over the next dozen years.

The group will also try to ex­pand its mem­ber­ship to 50 by next fall’s United Na­tions Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence in Poland.

“I’m thrilled to see so much global mo­men­tum for the tran­si­tion to clean en­ergy and the move away from coal power — and this is only the be­gin­ning,” McKenna said in a re­lease.

Sim­i­larly, Perry said the U.K. is com­mit­ted to phas­ing out “un­abated coal-fire power gen­er­a­tion no later than 2025 and we hope to in­spire oth­ers to fol­low suit.”

Cana­dian and U.K.-based groups sup­port­ing the phase­out of coal ex­pressed their hope that coun­tries like South Korea, Ja­pan and Ger­many, which burn sub­stan­tially more coal than any in the group of 20, would join.

All told, coal con­sump­tion from the group of 20 com­prises just over two per cent of to­tal coal con­sumed around the world, ac­cord­ing to data from BP Plc. and World Bank.

None of the world’s largest coal­burn­ing coun­tries — led by China, In­dia, the U.S., Ja­pan and Rus­sia — are mem­bers of the coali­tion an­nounced Thurs­day.

Canada burns the most coal of any coun­try on the list of 20 and had al­ready an­nounced plans to tran­si­tion its elec­tric sys­tem away from the fos­sil fuel by 2030, largely thanks to ef­forts by prov­inces such as On­tario and Al­berta.

The U.K. is the sec­ond largest coal con­sumer in the coali­tion, fol­lowed by the Nether­lands, Mex­ico, France and Aus­tria.

A hand­ful of coun­tries in the group — in­clud­ing An­gola, Costa Rica, El Sal­vador and Fiji — nei­ther pro­duce nor con­sume any coal.

“This is con­sis­tent with ex­ist­ing pol­icy for most of those coun­tries” that have joined the group of 20, said Chris Bataille, a re­searcher at Paris-based think-tank IDDRI.

Bataille said the coal emis­sions of the group of 20 coun­tries rep­re­sent a small slice of global coal emis­sions.

Politi­cians in other coun­tries, such as Ger­many, Ja­pan and China are also look­ing to re­duce coal­fired emis­sions but do not have plans to com­pletely move away from the power source, he said.

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