Ottawa Citizen

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


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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