Canada's Coal Hypocrisy

It's called the Powering Past Coal Alliance and it's led by the UK and Canada. Well done us. Except that it's just more greenwash.

Paul Schreiber, the author of the report from Reclaim Finance, said: “The PPCA may be well-intentioned, but it is not fit for purpose. It could be helpful, if done right, but today it is not helpful [to global carbon reductions]. Members are not following up on their pledges. It serves as a greenwashing engine for financial institutions.”

Canada is continuing to develop scores of new coalmines, which will be used to export coal for use in power plants in other countries, despite remaining within the rules by planning to phase out coal domestically.

Phasing out coal is essential to the fight to prevent runaway global warming. However, like bitumen, that means leaving coal in the ground, unburned.

Canada has to be held to account for flooding world markets with cheap, high-carbon, low value fossil energy, particularly bitumen and coal. Our government's hypocrisy is outrageous. It's also becoming common. China, for example.

Just as Canada's deeds don't match its words, China's pledge to decarbonize is looking increasingly flimsy. In reality, China is embarking on a coal binge.

Coal remains at the heart of China’s flourishing economy. In 2019, 58 percent of the country’s total energy consumption came from coal, which helps explain why China accounts for 28 percent of all global CO2 emissions. And China continues to build coal-fired power plants at a rate that outpaces the rest of the world combined. In 2020, China brought 38.4 gigawatts of new coal-fired power into operation, more than three times what was brought on line everywhere else.

China has pledged that its emissions will peak around 2030, but that high-water mark would still mean that the country is generating huge quantities CO2 — 12.9 billion to 14.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually for the next decade, or as much as 15 percent per year above 2015 levels, according to a Climate Action Tracker analysis.

Whether China can flatten its carbon emissions in the next decade remains to be seen, and its goal of carbon neutrality by 2060 depends heavily on increasing reliance on renewable energy and nuclear power, as well as major technological advances in areas such as carbon capture-and-storage. At this point, China’s coal dependence threatens both its long-term decarbonization plans and global efforts to limit temperatures increases to 1.5-degrees Celsius (2.7 F).


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