NDP calls for ban on coal exports as Canadian production rises

Canadian exports of the type of coal used to produce electricity hit an eight-year high in 2022, even as the Liberals have vowed to work toward a complete ban on exports by the end of the decade.

The Liberals made the promise during the 2021 election and it was in Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s mandate letter in December.

In the following year, Canada exported more than eight million tonnes of domestically produced thermal coal, an increase of 60 per cent from 2021 and more than eight times what was exported in 2018.

That year, thermal coal exports hit a low of one million tonnes, before rising rapidly, doubling to two million tonnes in 2019, almost five million tonnes in 2020 and 5.5 million tonnes in 2021.

NDP environmental critic Laurel Collins says those numbers are simply “shocking.”

Collins will introduce his own private member’s bill today to ban thermal coal exports. He said in an interview that he is moving forward on the issue because liberals have not.

“It’s really disheartening given the impact of coal on the climate crisis,” Collins said.

The export data was provided to Collins by the government in response to a question about an ordering paper she raised in the House of Commons last fall.

The answer says that the 8.23 ​​million tons of thermal coal exported in 2022 would produce 18 million tons of greenhouse gases. That is the equivalent of what about four million passenger vehicles would emit in a year.

NDP calls for ban on coal exports as Canadian production increases. #coal #NDP #electricity

The response also included a look at how much coal is exported through Canada but produced elsewhere. Most of it comes from the United States. Coal exports through Canada rose from eight million tonnes in 2015 to 14 million tonnes in 2018, then dropped to 10 million in 2022.

The Liberals have already enacted a policy to phase out coal-fired power plants in Canada by 2030, unless they are equipped with technology to trap and store their greenhouse gas emissions. They have also co-led with the UK a global initiative to “boost coal” to force a reduction in coal power around the world.

Domestic coal use in Canada has plummeted in recent years, even before the Liberal phase-out policy, when the previous Ontario Liberal government decided to close all of its coal-fired power plants. Only four provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, still rely on coal to produce electricity. Alberta is on track to close its last coal plant sometime this year.

But as demand in Canada falls, international demand has soared, setting new records in both 2022 and 2023, according to the International Energy Agency.

Statistics Canada reports that since 2020, international demand for coal has been increasing to meet growing energy needs. That demand was exacerbated in 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, causing a surge in natural gas prices and a coincident demand for cheaper coal power.

Coal is considered to be the dirtiest source of electricity, producing more emissions than other fossil fuels to produce the same amount of electricity.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2024.

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