In the lead up to the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties in Paris, Ontario passed legislation today to permanently ban coal-fired electricity generation in the province – a first in North America and a significant step in the fight against climate change.
The Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act prevents new and existing facilities from burning coal for the sole purpose of generating electricity. It sets maximum fines for anyone who violates the ban and enshrines the health and environmental benefits of making coal-fired electricity illegal in law.
This landmark legislation builds on Ontario’s leadership on climate change. Last year, Ontario closed its last coal-fired power plant. Closing coal-fired power plants represents one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in North America. The closure has eliminated more than 30 megatonnes of annual GHG emissions, equivalent to taking seven-million vehicles off our roads. Closing coal has helped reduce the number of smog days in Ontario from 53 in 2005 to zero in 2015.
Climate change is not a distant threat – it is already costing the people of Ontario. It has devastated communities, damaged homes, businesses and crops and increased insurance rates. The cost of inaction is far too high.
“Ontario’s ban on coal-fired power is an important success story that I will be proud to share with world leaders at the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties in Paris next week. Provincial efforts are critical to Canada’s success to fight climate change and Ontario will work closely with the new federal government to fully leverage all possible opportunities to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” – Glen R. Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Closing coal-fired electricity generation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- The province will be releasing a Climate Change Strategy that looks forward to 2050, and sets out Ontario’s vision and objectives for meeting its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and pursuing a prosperous low-carbon economy.
- Ontario is engaging with the business community, environmental groups and First Nations, among others, on the design of a cap and trade program.
- In August 2007, Ontario brought the Cessation of Coal Use Regulation into force under the Environmental Protection Act. The regulation prohibited the use of coal at existing stand-alone electricity generating facilities after Dec. 31, 2014.
- By April 2014, coal-fired electricity was successfully eliminated from all Ontario Power Generation stations – 19 generating units in total. More than 90 per cent of the power generated in Ontario now comes from clean energy sources such as water, nuclear and renewables.