Clean Technology Canada

No plan to phase out coal in Canada as G7 environment ministers wrap up meetings

April 17, 2023
By The Canadian Press

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Environment and energy ministers from G7 countries wrapped two days of talks in northern Japan on Apr. 16 without acting on Canada’s push to set a timeline for phasing out coal-fired power plants.

In their 36-page communique after the meeting in Sapporo, the ministers restated their commitment to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, and promised to work with other countries to end new coal-fired power projects that don’t take steps to mitigate emissions.

“We call on and will work with other countries to end new unabated coal-fired power generation projects globally as soon as possible to accelerate the clean energy transition in a just manner,” the document says.

Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told the Japanese public broadcaster last week that he hoped to see “strong language” in the final statement about the phaseout of coal.

The leaders instead reaffirmed they need to achieve a “predominantly decarbonized power sector” by 2035.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Apr. 16, Guilbeault said he still welcomed the shared commitment between G7 countries to accelerate coal phaseout, but also called for greater urgency.

“For Canada, phasing out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 has never been so urgent,” the statement reads.

“Science is clear, countries, in particular G7, must do more and on a faster timeline to address climate change and keep the Paris Agreement temperature goal in reach.”

In the 2015 Paris accord, 196 countries, including Canada, agreed to set national targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions en route to preventing the planet from warming up more than two degrees Celsius on average compared with pre-industrial levels.

Guilbeault has advocated for consensus on phasing out coal by 2030, as Canada has promised to do, but G7 environment ministers have struggled to find common ground on the issue as countries like Japan continue to rely on coal-powered electricity.

The Sapporo talks also yielded pledges to co-operate on wise and equitable environmental energy, water, farm and marine policies.

“I believe that we were able to demonstrate to the international community that our commitment to climate change and environmental issues is unwavering, even in the context of the situation in Ukraine,” Akihiro Nishimura, Japan’s environment minister, said after the talks ended.

The ministers also committed to ending plastic pollution, aiming to take new plastic pollution to zero by 2040 as part of their priorities ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima in May.

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