Two statements on the Trudeau government's plan to phase out coal power

Clean Energy Canada

Accelerating Transition to Clean Electricity Will Drive Clean Growth, Cut Pollution

November 21, 2016

OTTAWA — The Government of Canada announced today that it will accelerate investments in clean electricity by phasing out traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030, increasing the country’s supply of non-emitting electricity from 80 to 90 per cent over the same period.

Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the announcement.

“Phasing out traditional coal-fired power by 2030 is good news for all Canadians. This commitment will cut pollution, make for healthier communities, and help spur clean growth and innovation in Canada.

“Working together, provinces and the federal government can optimize our electricity system to deliver clean, reliable and affordable power. That means building transmission lines to carry more clean power to those jurisdictions still burning fossil fuels, investing in smarter grids in our towns and cities, and bringing more clean power online. It's good to see these areas identified as priorities for infrastructure investment.

“There is a straightforward formula for cutting carbon pollution: clean up your electricity system, and shift from fossil fuels to clean power for heating buildings, fueling cars and powering industry. By committing to make 90 per cent of Canada’s electricity emissions-free by 2030, the federal government took a big step forward in Canada’s transition to clean energy.”

Key Facts

  • Between 2005 and 2015, wind power capacity grew 20-fold and solar capacity grew 125-fold. This new generation capacity is in addition to significant hydro capacity, which generated 58 per cent of Canada’s electricity in 2015. (Canada’s Renewable Power Landscape, National Energy Board)
  • All new generating capacity added to Canada’s grid last year was renewable, except for one natural gas plant. This means 88 per cent of new spending went to renewable power generation and 83 per cent of new capacity came from renewable sources. (Tracking the Energy Revolution – Canada 2016, Clean Energy Canada)
  • Spending on new renewable generation in Canada in 2015 is equivalent to all new capital investment in mining and quarrying ($9.6 billion) or half of new capital invested in manufacturing ($19.1 billion). (Tracking the Energy Revolution – Canada 2016, Clean Energy Canada)

Clare Demerse | Federal Policy Advisor


Pembina Institute

Coal-fired power worsening health and climate nation-wide

New report from doctors, health and environment groups call on federal government to phase-out coal nationally by 2030

November 21, 2016

OTTAWA —A national coal phase-out by 2030 would prevent over a thousand premature deaths across Canada and result in billions of dollars in health benefits, according to a new report from the Pembina Institute and a coalition of health and environment organizations. A federal policy commitment of this nature would double health benefits compared to the existing federal phase-out timeline, and would make an important contribution to the upcoming pan-Canadian climate plan.

Out with the coal, in with the new: national benefits of an accelerated phase-out of coal fired power, finds that pollutants from coal-fired power traveling across provinces affect the health of populations in both coal-burning and non-coal-burning provinces. Air pollutants from coal plants are known to produce heart and lung diseases, aggravate asthma and increase premature deaths and hospital admissions. Coal plants are also a significant source of mercury that is harmful to children exposed during pregnancy and in early life.

A national phase-out of coal-fired power is a critical piece of an effective pan-Canadian climate plan, not only for the significant greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, but for the health and economic co-benefits it would secure nationwide. By advancing a national phase-out by 2030, Canada would join a growing number of jurisdictions, including provincial leaders in Alberta and Ontario, as well as the United Kingdom, Austria and the states of New York and Oregon.

Quick facts

  • A national phase-out of coal-fired power by 2030 would avoid 1,008 premature deaths, 871 emergency room visits, and produce nearly $5 billion in benefits between 2015 and 2035.
  • Coal-fired power represents over 70% of emissions in Canada’s electricity sector, while providing only 11% of the country’s electricity.
  • The electricity sector is responsible for approximately 12% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Currently, there are 35 coal power units across Canada, in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
  • According to the Government of Canada, in 2014, coal plants were 10 of the top 17 sources of sulphur dioxide in Canada, 10 of the 14 top sources of nitrogen oxides, and 3 of the top 5 sources of mercury.


“Because of its potential to reduce carbon pollution and avoid negative health and economic outcomes, a national coal phase-out is a foundational element of credible long-term climate action. In order to live up to its commitment outlined in the Paris Agreement, Canada must rapidly clean up its electricity grid and replace fossil fuel combustion with clean electricity. We expect an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power by 2030 to be a critical piece of the upcoming pan-Canadian climate plan.”

— Erin Flanagan, federal policy director, Pembina Institute

“By closing Canada’s remaining coal-fired power plants by 2030, we can improve the health and well-being of thousands of Canadians by improving air quality from Alberta to the Maritimes. By closing these plants, we will save lives, prevent chronic heart and lung diseases, make breathing easier for those with asthma, while saving health care costs by reducing emergency room visits and hospital admissions. This is climate action that will produce many immediate co-benefits.”

— Kim Perrotta, executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

“Public support for ending coal use is enormous. People know burning coal poisons the air and leads to health problems, particularly for children and the elderly. And they understand it contributes to climate change. In 2005, Ontario had 53 days with smog warnings. In 2014, after the province's last coal plant closed, there were zero smog days."

— Gideon Forman, climate change and transportation policy analyst, David Suzuki Foundation

“The scientific evidence on the destructive health effects of coal pollution is clear; it has been associated with myriad health issues, such as cancer, autism, miscarriages and poor lung and brain development in children. The federal government has the opportunity to reduce the ongoing serious damage being inflicted on the health of taxpayers as a result of coal-fired power plants. 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.”

— Ian Culbert, executive director, Canadian Public Health Association