Canada will speed up plans to virtually eliminate traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030, the government said on Monday, a stance contrasting sharply with that of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to revive the sector.
Canada's Liberal government ran on a platform to do more for the environment. Its coal-cutting plan would help it meet the emissions reduction targets of the Paris agreement, which Parliament ratified last month.
South of the border, the Republican Trump has vowed to ease the regulatory burden on all fossil fuel producers, including coal.
Globally, more than 2,400 coal power plants are under construction or being planned, with two-thirds in China and India, experts say.
Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Canada's coal regulation, which accelerates an existing timetable, will take into account the positions of provinces, some of which have resisted federal plans to counter climate change.
The government will support the transition by using the Canada Infrastructure Bank public-private funding mechanism, according to McKenna's department, which did not disclose details.
Four provinces still burn coal for electricity: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Meeting the coal-cutting targets will be hard for some as the transition may be costly, even with the federal government's accommodation, said Joe Aldina, director for U.S. coal for PIRA Energy Group.
But certain industries will likely benefit as provinces look for energy in new areas or further explore existing ones, he said.
"British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba have really significant hydro resources," he said. "I'd expect a mix of natural gas and renewables to benefit."
Under Canada's plan, some plants will be allowed to stay open if equivalent emission reductions are achieved elsewhere, McKenna said.
"Our goal is to make Canada's electricity 90 percent non-emitting by 2030." she said.
Provincial responses were mixed. 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 of today's federal government announcement," he said.
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