Canada’s plan to reduce emissions from the electricity sector


Canada’s climate change plan includes phasing out traditional coal power by 2030 and ensuring that electricity from natural gas is cleaner. 

On December 12, 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada published new greenhouse gas regulations for coal and natural-gas-fired electricity. These were designed to make the transition to cleaner energy both manageable and efficient over the next decade.

Canada’s new regulations for natural gas-fired electricity complement the coal-fired electricity regulations. They encourage some coal-fired power plants to convert to cleaner burning natural gas and offer regulatory certainty for new investments in electricity generation, which will provide good, well-paying jobs for some workers affected by the phase-out of coal.

These converted power plants will play a supporting role in transitioning to cleaner sources of electricity. They will ensure reliable and affordable electricity as large amounts of coal-fired generation come offline over a short period of time. Additionally, they will help to meet daily and seasonal periods of peak electricity demand and can provide a backup energy source to renewables, such as wind and solar.

The Government of Canada is also supporting investments to improve interprovincial electricity grid infrastructure, which will make it easier to bring affordable clean energy, such as hydro and wind, from neighbouring jurisdictions to replace coal-fired electricity. The federal government is also making investments in next-generation smart grid, storage, and clean electricity technology demonstration projects; in the deployment of emerging renewable energy technologies nearing commercialization; and in green infrastructure projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, deliver clean air, and promote renewable power.

Just Transition

Just Transition is an approach to economic and environmental policy that aims to minimize the impact on workers and communities during the transition to a low-carbon economy. This approach includes involving workers and communities in decisions that would affect their livelihood. It identifies and supports economic opportunities for the future and helps workers and communities succeed through and benefit from the transition.

The Government of Canada is working to ensure the transition away from coal power is a fair one for coal workers and communities. Earlier this year, Canada launched the Task Force on the Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities.

The Task Force will help Canada create a clear path forward to ensure coal workers have the support they need to train for work in other industries and find new jobs, and it will support communities in diversifying and creating new economic opportunities.

Earlier this year, the Task Force met with employers, workers, community representatives, and other stakeholders in each of the four provinces that operate coal power plants. During visits to Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, the Task Force listened to stakeholders and gathered information and suggestions on:

  • The impacts this transition may have on coal-power workers and communities.
  • New economic opportunities for workers and communities. 
  • Opportunities to leverage existing economic development and infrastructure funds as well as employment and training supports.
  • The kinds of policies and programs needed to support the transition.

Canada looks forward to reviewing the Task Force’s final recommendations. The report will be published on and shared with the communities, workers, and other groups the Task Force met with last spring.

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