Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. It is devastating to human health and the environment, ending coal-fired electricity means cleaner air and healthier communities. All levels of government in Canada know this and have taken steps to shift away from using thermal coal to produce electricity. [Metallurgical coal, on the other hand, is still being used in steel-making.]
The Government of Canada launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance and has taken important steps to stop the building of new thermal coal mines. Ontario has successfully phased out coal-powered electricity, and Alberta will be off coal by 2023 – seven years ahead of schedule.
If we aren’t okay with burning coal in Canada, we shouldn’t feed coal consumption overseas
Yet Canada continues to export Canadian and American thermal coal from our ports – which fuels overseas power plants that worsen the climate crisis at home and abroad. These coal exports produce up to 40 million tonnes of emissions each year, equivalent to 8 million passenger vehicles.
The impacts from the transportation and export, particularly of American thermal coal, through Canada’s largest metropolitan areas are a daily reminder of the unfinished task at hand. Communities adjacent to rail lines that service ports are dealing with the consequences from the exposure to diesel exhaust particulate and airborne coal dust.
People power has been critical in ending thermal coal
Over the last year, tens of thousands of people across the country have voiced their demands that Canada end the mining and export of thermal coal. You’ve supported the work that we do at Environmental Defence, by signing petitions, taking to social media and writing letters to the editor.
And the federal government has heard us.
During the last federal election, for the first time, the government promised to ban thermal coal exports from and through Canada no later than 2030. This commitment was reiterated in the mandate letters to ministers.
Though a good start, waiting until 2030 is just too late.
Let’s make 2022 the last year that Canada exports thermal coal
There is no excuse to continue exporting coal until 2030. We have the technology to replace coal with cheaper, healthier, and cleaner renewable energy.
We know that Canada and the world are far off track to meet our climate commitments and rapidly cut emissions this decade. Phasing out coal from the electricity sector is one the single most important steps to get in line with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement.
For Canada to truly be a world leader on thermal coal, we must move quickly to stop exporting the dirtiest fossil fuel. A 2023 deadline gives the federal government a year to develop and implement new regulations – an ambitious but doable timeline. And we must be ambitious.
The forest fires, droughts, and extreme weather events of this past year have shown us that climate change will not wait – and neither can we.
Add your name to demand that the federal government ban the export of thermal coal by 2023.