Oil, coal use to peak in 2020 before being replaced by electric, solar: report

Coal and oil will reach its peak in 2020, according to a new report.
Coal and oil will reach its peak in 2020, according to a new report. AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File

Oil and coal  use will peak in 2020. But as climate change forces people to change their habits, green technologies will slowly replace fossil fuels over the coming decades, according to a new report.

This isn’t a “radical” prediction, the report from Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London states, “but a reflection of the current state of play.”

“Electric vehicles and solar power are game-changers that the fossil fuel industry consistently underestimates,” said Luke Sussams, senior researcher at Carbon Tracker.

READ MORE: Earth on track to heat up to devastating levels by 2100, scientists say

The researchers predict demand for coal will peak in 2020 and fall to half 2012 levels by 2050, while oil demand will plateau from 2020 to 2030 before seeing a steady decline.

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World leaders’ commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions along with cheaper and more readily available solar power and electric vehicles is bound to diminish fossil fuel use over time, the report states.

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The goal of the landmark Paris accord, signed by nearly 200 countries, is to contain climate change below 2 degrees Celsius of warming by moving away from fossil fuel use.

In Canada, that’s meant taxing carbon emissions. The escalating federal floor price introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be imposed on carbon emissions starting in 2018, starting at $10 a tonne and rising by $10 annually to $50 a tonne in 2023.

Canadians have already started to feel the sting in Alberta and Ontario, as governments enacted carbon taxes at the beginning of 2017.

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Oil has seen a moderate resurgence and stabilization since the oil crash of 2014, and continues to be an important industry in Canada.

Coal’s fate in Canada has largely been sealed: A new federal deadline requires all provinces to phase out coal-fired plants by 2030.

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Alberta has agreed to the timeline, prompting 30 municipalities to send a letter to Premier Rachel Notley sounding alarm over “significant consequences for the economy, jobs, communities and all the citizens of Alberta.”

The province has committed to help workers find new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

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Breaking down the meaning of a carbon tax
Breaking down the meaning of a carbon tax

Nova Scotia worked out a deal with Ottawa to allow the use of coal past 2030; the province has agreed to reduce emissions in other areas in exchange. Saskatchewan also reached a equivalency agreement in order to have more flexibility in phasing out coal.

Coal has already been shown the door in Ontario, and according to the province is”the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation.”

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Solar energy is “quickly gaining ground in Canada,” according to Natural Resources Canada.

And a 2016 report from the International Energy Agency suggests solar power to become cheaper and more efficient.

Canada’s PV capacity went from 1 megawatt in 1992 to 2,579.4 megawatts in 2015.

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While our energy consumption habits are bound to change, fossil fuels still have a future in North America as U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to revive the “clean coal” industry and Trudeau recently approved two oil pipeline projects.

With a file from the Canadian Press