Sustainable Energy

Canada speeds up transition to clean energy while Trump sees a future for fossil fuels

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The government of Canada has announced that it is to accelerate its investments in clean energy while, in the U.S., President-elect Donald Trump has backed cutting red tape for fossil fuels.

On Monday Catherine McKenna, Canada's minister for environment and climate change, said that the country would speed up the transition from traditional coal power to clean energy by 2030.

In a news release, the Canadian government said the acceleration of a coal power phase-out would improve air quality and the health of Canadians.

Canada is already home to regulations that, according to its government, "apply performance standard to new coal-fired electricity-generation units and to units that have reached the end of their useful life."

'End of useful' life is usually seen as 50 years of operation after a unit was commissioned, the government says. If nothing had changed, some of these units may have continued to operate "for decades to come."

The amendments announced on Monday, however, will seek to make sure that all traditional coal-fired units will have to meet a "stringent performance standard of 420 tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour… by no later than 2030."

This, the government says, would speed-up the phase-out of traditional coal-fired units – those which don't use carbon capture and storage – in Canada.

"Taking traditional coal power out of our energy mix and replacing it with cleaner technologies will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health of Canadians, and benefit generations for years to come," McKenna said in a news release. "It sends a clear signal to the world that Canada is a great place to invest in clean energy."

The Canadian government said this transition to greener sources would be supported by using the Canada Infrastructure Bank to "finance projects such as commercially viable clean energy and modern electricity systems between provinces and territories."

In a speech on Monday, McKenna further added that "the action announced today will reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by more than five megatonnes by 2030. This is the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road."

Canada's move came on the same day that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said he had asked his transition team to "develop a list of executive actions we can take on day one to restore our laws and bring back our jobs."

Among other things, Trump said he would "cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal, creating many millions of high paying jobs."