Friday, December 2, 2016

Canada hopes to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030

The Liberal government intends to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030. The move is part of the government's clean energy strategy.

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Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Monday that the goal of the strategy is to ensure that 90 percent of Canada's power comes from sustainable sources. At present 80 percent of power in Canada already comes from sustainable sources. Coal plants in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are responsible for 10 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan allows provinces to completely phase out coal plants as Alberta is doing or they can use carbon capture and storage technology. The move is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five megatonnes by 2030. This is equivalent to taking 1.3 milliion cars off the road. There is an agreement to allow Nova Scotia some flexibility in shifting from fossil fuels to other cleaner forms of production. The Trudeau government is also negotiating an agreement with Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick both have plants that are expected to remain in operation until 2040. Both governments or their utilities have expressed concerns about the federal plan.
Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan criticized the coal plan. He complained that Ottawa had promised to work with the provinces on a national climate strategy but then announced new regulations before meeting with them. Wall said: “These actions have severely undermined the December meeting and have exposed the prime minister's disingenuous commitment to federal-provincial collaboration.” He said his government would review the economic and environmental impacts of the accelerated phase out of the coal plants.
The Liberal strategy contrasts with the policy announced by President-elect Donald Trump. Trump has promised to ease the regulatory burden on fossil fuel producers including those producing coal. In early December, there is to be a meeting with all the Canadian provinces to come up with a broader climate change policy in Canada. McKenna said: "Tackling climate (change) is both a challenge and a huge opportunity. This opportunity will attract the investments required to build the clean-energy economy that will position Canada for great success in generations to come." McKenna noted that Canada already had an abundance of hydro, wind and solar resources for producing power allowing it to already produce most of its power from renewable resources. McKenna claimed the policy would help reduce illnesses linked to smog such as asthma that can effect children and seniors saying: "The early phase-out will significantly improve the quality of our air and the health of Canadians."
Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Health Association praised the plan: “The scientific evidence on the destructive health effects of coal pollution is clear. By tightening federal regulations on coal-fired power plants, the government of Canada can take an important step towards creating the healthy energy environment that will protect the health of Canadians today and provide a stable climate for the future.”
Canada has joined Great Britain, France, Netherlands, Austria and Denmark in announcing an accelerated phasing out of coal-fired plants. Nevertheless, world-wide over 2,400 coal-fired power plants are either under construction or being planned over half of these are in India and China.

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