Global momentum for an end of coal grows as Alberta kicks it to the curb

end of coal

Creative Commons: Cindy Kilpatrick, 2006

In yet another sign that coal has no future, Canada’s Alberta province has announced its commitment to phase out coal by 2030.

The latest news comes just days before governments meet in Paris to agree a new global climate agreement and less than a week after the UK government made a similar announcement – pledging to end the use of unabated coal use by 2025.

Al Gore, former US Vice President said:

This is another powerful signal – well-timed on the eve of the Paris negotiations – that humanity is beginning to win our struggle to solve the climate crisis. We do need to win faster. I encourage Premier Notley, and all of Alberta, to follow this first step with continued bold action to transition away from fossil fuels.

Along with a coal phase out, Alberta announced a transition to more natural gas and renewable energy generation, with renewables expected to comprise around 30% of the province’s electricity production by 2030.

That equates to two-third of displaced coal-generation to be replaced by renewables – mainly wind power.

Ed Whittingham, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute said:

The complete phase-out of coal by 2030 makes clear the government of Alberta’s intention to improve air quality and to tackle one of our highest-emitting fuel sources. Given the international attention on coal as an unnecessary source of pollution, the government of Alberta’s decision not only protects people’s health and saves the province’s health care system hundreds of millions of dollars a year, it gives Alberta the credibility to bring a better message and approach to Paris.

According to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, the province’s new climate strategy would allow the province to prosper economically, while putting the environment and climate at the forefront.

Alberta will introduce a carbon pricing model in January 2017, simultaneously accelerating the province’s transition towards clean energy resources.

Notley’s plan to strengthen the economy while creating jobs and “doubling down on reducing emissions impacts” comes at a time when Alberta is working to rebuild its reputation as a climate pariah.

It also follows US President Barack Obama’s recent labelling of tar sands crude among the world’s “dirtiest” energy sources when he rejected TransCanada Corporation’s bid to run the Keystone XL pipeline through America’s heartland.

While Alberta has agreed to cap emissions — including those from tar sands — as part of its new program, the plans have yet to provide clear prospects on the future of existing operations.

Louise Comeau, Executive Director, CAN-Canada said:

It is the first time Alberta has offered such a comprehensive package, but the growth cap on oil sands is essentially business as usual. More needs to be done to bring Canada’s actions in line with the global need to avoid dangerous global warming. The federal Government must act with courage to responsibly protect the public interest through a national framework that gets Canada on track to doing its fair share to protect the climate.

The historic announcement represents yet another milestone of the global transition away from dirty energy towards a clean energy future – momentum for which is at an all time high.

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