Canada to fully phase out coal power by 2030

Canada’s Liberal government has taken a page from the Obama Administration’s books as it plans to completely phase out traditional coal power by 2030, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Monday.

Ottawa also said it would work with the country’s four provinces that still burn coal for electricity — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick — to reduce coal power-related greenhouse gas emissions coming from them, which are equivalent to 10% of Canada’s current totals.

Canada to fully phase out coal power by 2030

Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said her ministry would work with the four provinces that still burn coal to reach the goal of making sure 90% of the country’s electricity comes from sustainable sources by 2010. (Image: McKenna’s webpage.)

The goal is to make sure 90% of the country's electricity comes from sustainable sources by that time — up from the current 80%, McKenna said.

The new regulation will accelerate the existing timetable – laid down by Canada’s Conservative government in 2012 – for the four provinces that still burn coal to either adopt technology to capture carbon emissions or shut down all coal plants and replace them with lower-emitting sources, such as Alberta is doing.

The move is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 5 megatonnes by 2030, which is the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road. This is in addition to the 10 megatonnes that Alberta's early phase-out of coal represents.

The plan includes a deal with Nova Scotia to give that province the flexibility it needs to shift directly from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of electricity, rather than switching to natural gas in the interim. McKenna noted her ministry is working on a similar agreement with Saskatchewan.

The minister also said the move is consistent with other countries' policies, such as France, the UK, Netherlands, Denmark and Austria, which have all accelerated their coal phase-out plans.