Liberals present plan to phase out coal-powered electricity by 2030

The federal government is speeding up the plan to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030.

In announcing the plan today, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said about 80 per cent of Canada’s electricity currently comes from clean sources such as hydro-power, nuclear, wind and solar. The goal is to make 90 per cent of electric power generation free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“This will help build a more sustainable future, and it is also a great economic opportunity,” she said during a news conference in Ottawa.

The plan accelerates the current timetable for the four provinces that still burn coal for electricity — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick — to either capture carbon emissions, adopt technology or shut down the plants.

McKenna said the plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five megatonnes a year, the equivalent of getting 1.3 million cars off the road, but she provided few details on how the accelerated phase-out will be achieved.

Reducing pollution from coal will also reduce smog-related illnesses, such as, asthma that affect children and seniors, McKenna said.

“The early phase-out will significantly improve the quality of our air and the health of Canadians,” she said.

The announcement comes in advance of a first ministers’ meeting with the provinces in early December to hammer out a broader climate-change plan.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said today’s announcement marks the second time the government has made a major policy announcement in advance of that meeting, violating the spirit of a promised partnership approach.

“These actions have severely undermined the December meeting and have exposed the prime minister’s disingenuous commitment to federal-provincial collaboration,” Wall said in a statement.

He said Saskatchewan will evaluate the environmental and economic impact of the announcement on the province.

“We will continue to strongly oppose any attempt to impose a federal carbon tax on Saskatchewan and will not support any agreement at the December meeting unless the proposed federal carbon tax is withdrawn,” he said.

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