November 13, 2017 Read More →

In Coal Phase-Outs, Canada and U.K. Part With U.S.

Globe and Mail:

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and her British counterpart, Claire Perry, will launch an international alliance to phase out coal-fired electricity at the Bonn climate summit this week, signalling a sharp contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump’s promotion of coal as an important global energy source.

Ms. McKenna will take the stage at the annual United Nations climate summit to showcase Canada’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including a national carbon pricing plan and federal-provincial moves to shut down traditional coal-fired power by 2030.

The United States, meanwhile, will use its platform at Bonn to highlight the Trump administration’s support for coal and other fossil fuels. At a Monday event, U.S. officials will join industry representatives at a panel discussion on “the role of cleaner and more efficient fossil fuels and nuclear power in climate mitigation.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is proposing an American-led alliance that would encourage developing countries to invest in more efficient coal plants. In contrast, Ms. McKenna and Ms. Perry will tout their countries’ plans to phase out coal-fired power as a model for the world and will aim to rally international investors to finance lower-carbon options rather than coal.

Since concluding a federal-provincial climate deal last December, Ottawa has announced a ream of planned policies to reduce GHG emissions, but it has yet to introduce the legislation or regulations to implement them, while the bulk of planned spending won’t come for another year or two.

In a fall report, federal Environmental Commissioner Julie Gelfand said the government must speed up the implementation of its plan.

The Liberals face criticism from two sides. New Democratic Party MP Linda Duncan says the Liberals are not moving fast enough, noting the 2017 budget indicated major spending on critical emission-reduction programs won’t begin until 2018-19.

Conservative Party MP Ed Fast argues the Liberals are piling on climate-related costs, including carbon taxes, at the risk of the country’s industrial competitiveness. He said Canada cannot get too far out of line with its major trading partners such as the United States, particularly at a time when Mr. Trump is pursuing a pro-business agenda.

The Trudeau government achieved a major victory just a year into its mandate by securing provincial and territorial agreement on the Pan-Canadian Framework on climate change, which commits all governments to undertake a broad range of policies – including carbon pricing – to bring down emissions.

Ms. McKenna insisted her government is not slackening the pace but taking a reasonable time to consult with industry and environmental experts on legislation and regulations, while working with provinces and territories on priorities for spending that will have the greatest impact on emissions.

“We are absolutely on track to meet our 2030 commitments,” she said. “We have a plan … and there’s a whole variety of measures we need to be taking. We also aren’t doing this alone; we’re working with provinces and territories.”

She pointed to federal investment in transit, including up to $1-billion over several years for Ottawa’s light rail transit system, a project which she said would result in the largest GHG reduction in the city’s history.

Carbon pricing legislation will be introduced early in the new year and will require all provinces to meet a minimum federal standard or see Ottawa implement its own carbon tax in their jurisdiction. The federal plan to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas industry is due to be released soon, even as Alberta is expected to release its own draft regulations in the coming days.

More: Canada, Britain to tout coal phase-out as U.S. champions fossil fuels

Comments are closed.