Canada releases Policy Statement on future thermal coal mining projects and project expansions

From: Environment and Climate Change Canada

The best available science and economic analysis calls for countries around the world to address the global challenge that is climate change, and to fully seize the economic opportunities that it presents. For the good of the planet’s health, the world is moving off thermal coal for energy production, and Canada is leading the way.

Burning thermal coal, the fuel that powered an industrial revolution in a previous century, is the single largest contributor to climate change and a major source of toxic pollution that harms human health. Since co-founding the Powering Past Coal Alliance in 2017 with the United Kingdom and introducing regulations to accelerate the phase-out of conventional coal-fired electricity, Canada has helped set the pace for domestic and international action in addressing this source of greenhouse gas emissions. Last month Canada, alongside other G7 countries, stressed the need to immediately end international investments in thermal coal power generation projects that emit carbon pollution.

As G7 world leaders gather in the U.K. to combat global challenges, including climate change, and as the next step in Canada’s commitment to addressing harmful GHG emissions from coal, the Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, today announced the Government of Canada’s public policy statement on new thermal coal mining or expansion projects. The statement indicates that the Government considers that these projects are likely to cause unacceptable environmental effects within federal jurisdiction and are not aligned with Canada’s domestic and international climate change commitments. Accordingly, this position will inform federal decision making on thermal coal mining projects.

Today’s policy announcement provides clarity and regulatory certainty for industry, investors and Canadians. It represents another critical step in our shared path to a cleaner and more prosperous future, and places Canada among the first G7 countries to adopt such a policy.

In parallel to today’s announcement, Minister Wilkinson informed Coalspur Mines Ltd. that the policy announced today applies to the consideration of its proposed thermal coal mine expansions at the Vista Coal Mine near Hinton, Alberta.

Canada’s abundant natural resources give this country a competitive advantage we have always used to support jobs and prosperity. In the global race to carbon-neutral economies by 2050, Canada continues to build on its long-term competitive advantage by focusing on environmental sustainability and clean growth while supporting workers and communities.

That is why, for example, Canada’s strengthened climate plan-A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy-committed $964 million over four years to advance smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects to enable the clean grid and jobs of the future. And that is why, to mitigate the impacts of the domestic phase out of coal-fired electricity, Budgets 2018 and 2019 provided $185 million for skills development, economic diversification, and infrastructure to support coal workers and communities.

The evidence is clear: the continued mining and use of thermal coal for energy production energy in the world runs counter to what is needed to effectively combat climate change and seize the economic opportunities that it presents. It is in this context that the Government has announced this policy today and will continue to work with Canadians to deliver strong climate action.

Quotes

“New thermal coal mining projects or expansions are not in line with the ambition Canadians want to see on climate, or with Canada’s domestic and international climate commitments. Eliminating coal-fired power and replacing it with cleaner sources is an essential part of the transition to a low carbon economy, and as a result, building new thermal coal mines for energy production is not sustainable.”

– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick facts

  • In 2018 the federal Government introduced regulations to phase-out conventional coal-fired electricity across Canada by 2030.

  • Limiting GHG emissions associated with conventional coal-fired electricity will protect the air we breathe, eliminate 12.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution from our atmosphere in 2030, and help Canada avoid an estimated 260 premature deaths, 40,000 asthma episodes and 190,000 days of breathing difficulty.

  • Aided by the Powering Past Coal Alliance, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries have closed over one third of their total coal power capacity through retirement commitments and phase-out policies.

  • In 2019, Export Development Canada committed to no new financing for coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines or dedicated thermal coal-related infrastructure. This May, all G7 countries also agreed to take concrete steps towards an end to government investment for unabated international thermal coal power generation projects by the end of 2021.

  • Canada’s electricity grid is over 80% emissions-free-one of the cleanest in the world-and is on track to meet its goal of having 90% non-emitting electricity generation by 2030.

  • In October 2020, the Canada Infrastructure Bank committed to invest $2.5 billion in clean power projects over the next 3 years.

  • In Canada’s strengthened climate plan of December 2020, a Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, Canada committed $964 million over four years to advance smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects to enable the clean grid of the future. This includes support to increase renewable power generation capacity such as wind and solar, and the deployment of grid modernization technologies such as power storage.

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