CBC’s John Paul Tasker reports on the cost to Canada of moving away from coal, not as bad as elsewhere but still significant for tens of thousands of workers and many many more payers of bills.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna hastened the decline of Canada’s coal industry Monday with the announcement of a plan to aggressively phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030, roughly 10 years ahead of schedule.
The plan is a cornerstone of the federal government’s move to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 in order to meet commitments it made at the Paris climate summit.
The government has already approved the construction of major new GHG-intensive projects, a massive liquid natural gas (LNG) plant in B.C., and has signaled more oil pipeline capacity could soon be approved, meaning it has to turn to other industries to reduce the country’s climate footprint.
Taking the country’s coal plants offline is expected to result in a reduction of roughly 61 megatonnes in annual emissions. Moreover, the plan would mean most of the country’s electricity — nearly 90 per cent — would then be drawn from nuclear generation and renewable sources such as hydroelectricity, wind and solar by 2030.
But coal still accounts for 10 per cent of the country’s energy supply, and the industry is a large employer with some 42,000 Canadians directly or indirectly employed in the extraction of 69 million tonnes of the fossil fuel each year, according to the Coal Association of Canada.