Canada earned its share of international praise last month in a report that highlighted the country’s leadership in the global coal phaseout, shone a light on its slow uptake of renewable energy, and said nothing about the domestic pipeline battles that will likely dominate the news over the coming week.
“Canada—along with European countries France, Italy, and the UK—leads the group of G20 countries when it comes to plans compatible with the Paris Agreement to phase out coal by 2030,” CBC wrote, citing a report by Climate Transparency, a group of 14 international environmental groups tracking the G20’s action on climate.
“In 2018, the federal government of Canada amended its regulations to accelerate a coal phaseout by 2030 for the whole country,” the report stated. “This followed the Canadian government’s leadership in establishing the Powering Past Coal Alliance in November 2017, together with the UK government.”
The report shows energy supply from coal declining 13% in Canada between 2012 and 2017, largely due to Ontario’s coal phaseout, but only 0.9% across the G20. Across the world’s 20 biggest economies, coal still accounted for 30% of primary energy supply in 2017, including 68% in South Africa, 64% in China, 44% in India, and 33% in Australia, the report concluded.
Climate Transparency pointed to at least US$39 billion in subsidies that G20 countries were still extending to coal as recently as two years ago. It listed Australia, Indonesia, the United States, Russia, and South Africa as the countries whose export income will be most severely affected as the global coal phaseout gains momentum.
The study listed six incentives for countries to phase out coal: carbon emission reductions, health benefits, the lower cost of renewable energy, the risk that coal assets will be “stranded” as the transition rolls out, energy independence, and access to off-grid power.
“While Canada ranks high when it comes to phasing out coal, it lags other G20 countries when it comes to replacing that power with renewable energy,” CBC reports. The country fell into the “low” category for renewable energy targets and policy, alongside Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the United States.
“Canada has a high share of hydropower in its electricity mix, but has not set itself a 100% renewable target, and the share of other renewable sources is still very low,” the report stated. “Responsibility for renewable support schemes lies at the provincial level.”