The Government of Canada outlines next steps in clean-energy transition
February 16, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario
Choosing cleaner electricity helps protect the health of Canadians, cut carbon pollution, and create opportunities for the middle class. The transition to clean energy is accelerating around the world, and Canada is part of a growing group of countries that are committed to phasing out traditional coal-fired electricity. Last fall, Canada and the U.K. founded the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which has already attracted over 30 governments and business members, whose combined wealth totals over $170 billion.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced amendments to existing regulations to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030, along with new greenhouse gas regulations for natural-gas-fired electricity. These measures are part of Canada’s clean-growth and climate action plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
Accelerating the phase-out of traditional coal-fired electricity will cut carbon pollution by 16 million tonnes in 2030, roughly equivalent to the emissions of four million cars in a year. By reducing our exposure to harmful air pollutants from coal plants, the phase-out will also improve the quality of the air we breathe. Air pollution from coal plants is linked to health risks, such as asthma and heart disease, which can lead to hospital admissions and contribute to premature deaths.
Canada’s proposed regulations for natural-gas-fired electricity complement the proposed amendments to coal-fired electricity regulations. These draft regulations have been designed to ensure that efficient technology is used with new natural-gas-fired electricity generation. They are expected to encourage some facilities to convert from running on coal to natural gas and to provide regulatory certainty for new investments in electricity generation.
Copies of both proposed regulations will be published in The Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 17, 2018. Provinces, industry stakeholders, and interested Canadians are invited to provide comments to Environment and Climate Change Canada, by April 18, 2018.
Minister McKenna also announced the creation of Canada’s Task Force on the Just Transition for Canadian Coal-Power Workers and Communities, which will provide the Minister with recommendations on how to make the transition away from coal a fair one for workers and communities.
The Task Force will include representatives from labour associations, unions, and municipalities, along with representatives with expertise in sustainable development, workforce development, and the electricity sector. Its work is expected to start in March and continue until the end of 2018.
“Phasing out coal is good news for our climate, for our health, and for our kids. I’m thrilled to take the next steps in powering past coal in Canada, with regulations to end the use of traditional coal power, in 2030. We know the environment and the economy go hand in hand, so we’re committed to making that transition a fair one for coal workers and communities. The task force we’re launching today is a big step toward meeting that commitment.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
- By accelerating the phase-out of traditional coal-fired electricity to 2030, Canada will reduce carbon pollution by 16 million tonnes that year.
- Despite generating only about 11 percent of Canada’s electricity supply, coal-fired electricity is responsible for 72 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.
- The proposed amendments will result in 260 avoided premature deaths, 40 000 fewer asthma episodes, and 190 000 fewer days of breathing difficulty and reduced activity—resulting in health benefits of $1.2 billion, from 2019 to 2055.
- Coal-fired electricity facilities are among the world’s largest sources of air pollution, including sulphur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, and mercury pollutants, which have significant health and environmental impacts.
- In Canada, clean energy accounted for more than 56 000 jobs and contributed $25.4 billion (1.3 percent) to Canada’s gross domestic product in 2016.
- Worldwide, the renewable-energy sector employs almost 10 million people. Jobs in solar and wind energy have doubled since 2012.
- Employment and Social Development Canada is already working closely with the Province of Alberta to assist people impacted by changes in the coal-fired electricity and the mining sectors.
- Budget 2017 announced the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, an ambitious effort to make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation, help create more well-paying jobs, and help strengthen and grow the middle class.
- Through Budget 2017, Canada is investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure, including $5 billion for green-infrastructure projects through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which may include projects that promote renewable power.
- Natural Resources Canada’s Emerging Renewable Power Program is providing up to $200 million to expand the portfolio of commercially viable renewable-energy sources available to provinces and territories and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their electricity sectors.
- Canada’s electricity-generation mix is already one of the cleanest in the world, with 80 percent of our electricity coming from renewable or non-emitting sources in 2016.
Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)