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EDC Withdraws Backing for Coal Projects, Continues Propping Up Oil and Gas

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Export Development Canada will no longer fund new thermal coal projects, but will still support oil and gas companies looking to take on new projects in other countries.

“Coal is one of the biggest carbon emitters with regards to climate change and we wanted to embed our current policy and take it a step further,” said Robert Fosco, EDC’s vice-president of corporate sustainability and responsibility. He acknowledged the agency hasn’t had very many requests for coal-related projects over the last couple of years, The Canadian Press reports.

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“The agency reduced its support for thermal coal projects in 2017 following advice from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, but continued to fund certain projects in developing countries, arguing that sometimes coal was the cheapest and most efficient means of producing electricity in countries that desperately needed it,” CP states. But “that all changes” with EDC’s new climate policy, which took effect this week.

The policy doesn’t apply to metallurgical coal used in steelmaking, CP notes. And “EDC’s new policy will still allow for investments in the oil and gas sector, an industry that accounted for one-fifth of Canadian exports in 2017 and one-tenth of the exports and international investments to which EDC contributes.”

While EDC acknowledges that a low-carbon transition is under way, it maintains that “responsible and efficient fossil fuel use will continue to be part of this transition”.

CP cites a report last November by Oil Change International and several Canadian environmental groups, showing that oil and gas companies received C$62 billion in EDC support between 2012 and 2017, more than 12 times the $5 billion the agency advanced to cleantech firms.