Canada to celebrate Clean Air Day with new members of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, including Quebec-based Desjardins Group

News release

June 2, 2020 – Vancouver, British Columbia

Tomorrow is Clean Air Day, an annual event dedicated to the importance of good air quality in Canada. While fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is the Government of Canada’s top priority, protecting our air quality and ensuring Canadians have healthy communities in which to live and raise their families remain important long-standing commitments. Phasing out coal-fired electricity generation has an important role to play in delivering on these commitments.

To help meet the challenge of transitioning to cleaner energy internationally, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, the Right Honourable Kwasi Kwarteng, today welcomed six new members to the Powering Past Coal Alliance. The new members include the Quebec-based Desjardins Group, the first major North American financial institution to join the Alliance. Hundreds of international investors and climate-policy experts joined the ministers virtually for this announcement.

The new Alliance members are leaders from the global financing sector, who are phasing out investments in coal power in favour of the economic opportunities offered by renewable-energy and low-carbon projects. More and more investors are taking into account climate risks when making long-term investment decisions, moving society toward a greener future.

The Powering Past Coal Alliance was launched in November 2017 by the Canadian and UK governments, with 27 national, state, and city governments signing on. Now with 104 members, the Alliance’s membership has more than tripled in under three years, showing that governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector are responding to the challenge laid out last year by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, to curtail coal generation and end construction of new coal plants by 2020.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada is developing effective, transparent, and efficient policy approaches that will help the economy recover, create conditions for new green jobs, attract investment, and help foster a competitive advantage for Canadian businesses.

On this year’s Clean Air Day, Canada would like to recognize the progress provinces are making in implementing their plans to phase out traditional coal-powered electricity in the years ahead. Our transition to cleaner energy is putting Canada on a pathway to have 90 percent non-emitting electricity generation by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Learn more about how Canada is addressing sources of air pollution at home and around the world and leading on important initiatives such as the Powering Past Coal Alliance.

Quotes

“It’s no coincidence that the members joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance today are from the financial sector. As the world begins its recovery from COVID-19, these companies see not only the importance of phasing out emissions from coal power but also the sizeable economic opportunities and reduced financial risks in a global transition to low-carbon energy. The new members will play a key role in the Alliance’s new financial sector taskforce, and I look forward to working with them.”

– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“I am delighted that six more world-class financial institutions have joined the PPCA on what is the eve of Canada’s Clean Air Day. We welcome their commitment to the environment and to channelling investment away from coal-fired power into sustainable energy.

“In the UK, we are proud of the progress we have made, to the point where less than three percent of our energy needs were coal generated, last year. As we work toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, we want to go further and faster, investing in cleaner and renewable technologies to ensure a green and resilient economic future.”

– The Right Honourable Kwasi Kwarteng, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth

“Fighting and adapting to climate change are priorities for the Desjardins Group. Our personal and business members and clients want a faster transition to clean energy. We are pleased to join the PCCA and support the shift away from coal.”

– Guy Cormier, President and CEO of the Desjardins Group

Quick facts

  • The Powering Past Coal Alliance, co-led by Canada and the United Kingdom, is the world’s first government-led initiative to accelerate clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of unabated coal power (coal power generated without operational carbon capture and storage).

  • With these new members, 104 national, regional, and local governments as well as dozens of well-known businesses and financial organizations have joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance.

  • Phasing out traditional coal-powered electricity in Canada is good for the health of Canadians, the country’s environment, and its economy. It will lead to an estimated 260 avoided premature deaths; 40,000 fewer asthma episodes; and 190,000 fewer days of breathing difficulty for Canadians across the country.

  • Canada’s air quality is consistently ranked among the cleanest by the World Health Organization. Clean air has never been more important. Air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19.

  • Using clean technology and innovation to reduce air pollution could add thousands of well-paying jobs over the next few years.

Associated links

Contacts

Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-271-6218
moira.kelly@canada.ca

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
ec.media.ec@canada.ca

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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