The Canadian government is accelerating its investment in clean energy and the phaseout of traditional coal power in order to reduce Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 5 million tons by 2030 – representing the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road.
Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, made the announcement today as part of the government’s vision to put the country on a path to move from 80% to 90% non-emitting sources by 2030.
“Taking traditional coal power out of our energy mix and replacing it with cleaner technologies will significantly reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions, improve the health of Canadians and benefit generations for years to come,” she says. “It sends a clear signal to the world that Canada is a great place to invest in clean energy.”
The government of Canada will support this transition by using the Canada Infrastructure Bank to finance projects such as commercially viable clean energy and modern electricity systems between provinces and territories. According to a press release from the Canadian government, the initiative will attract global investments that grow the economy and create good, middle-class jobs.
The government says it is committed to working closely with provinces and territories to attract the investments necessary to build a modern, integrated, clean power system that results in local solutions for ratepayers, workers and the environment. It also plans to work with provinces and territories to set performance standards for natural gas-fired electricity.
It will also work with provinces and labor organizations to ensure workers affected by the accelerated phaseout of traditional coal power are involved in the transition.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), applauding the announcement, says the new measures will open up new opportunities for wind energy in Canada. In addition, CanWEA says they will enhance Canada’s ability to compete for renewable energy investment as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy in response to climate change.
“The federal government’s commitment to phase out greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 will bring important health and climate benefits to Canadians,” says Robert Hornung, CanWEA’s president. “As the most cost-competitive source of new renewable electricity generation in Canada, wind energy will play a critical role in replacing that power by providing reliable and affordable electricity that will enable the federal government to meet its goal that 90 percent of Canada’s electricity will be carbon-free by 2030.”
Though Canada’s electricity system is currently 83% non-greenhouse-gas-emitting, Canada’s abundant renewable energy resources make it possible for the country to move to a near-zero greenhouse-gas emissions electricity grid over time, adds CanWEA.
Meeting this longer-term objective will require natural-gas-fired electricity to be used strategically (e.g., as an enabler of renewable energy) in a manner that will also decline over time, according to CanWEA.
“The federal government has also made it clear that it is willing to use the new Canada Infrastructure Bank to invest in critical infrastructure, like new transmission lines, that will enable the increased penetration of renewable electricity into Canada’s grid,” adds Hornung. “Taken together, these actions make it clear that Canada is serious about decarbonizing its electricity grid and sends a clear signal to investors that Canada will be an increasingly attractive destination for renewable energy investment in the future.”
In response to the announcement, Bruce Nilles, senior director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, released the following statement:
“This is what global leadership looks like. Fossil fuels are neither good for our health or our economy, and as we continue to make progress moving beyond coal across the U.S., we applaud our northern neighbors for helping lead the way.
“This move shows that a world without coal isn’t just possible; it’s necessary – and soon. Other nations must act on this reality or be left behind with a serious competitive disadvantage that also puts the lives of their citizens at risk.”