Coal has been used for many hundreds of years to provide heat and energy, but the industrial revolution solidified the resource as a mainstay in energy production. From fuelling the earliest steam engines to modern power plants, it is hard to imagine our lives without this carbon rock.
As a cheap, widely available fuel, coal has allowed economies to grow and continues to power growth around the world. Unfortunately, however, coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions of all power sources accounting for 67.9% of CO2 emissions in electricity production in the US in 2017.
With countries such as China and India building new coal-fired power plants at a rapid rate, achieving target reductions in greenhouse gas emissions seems increasingly difficult. There are, however, a number of jurisdictions that have successfully transitioned away from coal or are in the process of moving away.
Ontario in Canada is the first such jurisdiction in North America to have abandoned coal in favour of other – less polluting – fuel sources for electricity generation. Alberta, another Canadian Province, is on schedule to closing or converting its coal-fired power plants by 2030.
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