Powering Past Coal Alliance: phasing out coal

The Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) was launched in 2017 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Its objective is to help accelerate clean growth and climate protection by rapidly phasing-out traditional coal-fired electricity. It was founded by Canada and the United Kingdom.

As of November 2022, PPCA membership has grown to more than 165 members, including national governments, sub-national governments, businesses and finance institutions. Furthermore, the PCCA has helped ensure that over 75 percent of coal power in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries are retired or scheduled to close by 2030.

The Powering Past Coal Alliance brings together all levels of government, businesses, and organizations, united in taking action to advance the transition away from traditional coal power generation. Alliance members commit to achieving this phase-out in a sustainable and economically inclusive way, while providing appropriate support for workers and communities.


Why we are powering past coal

Action on climate change

Coal power is the largest global source of greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. Powering past coal is one of the single most important climate steps the world can take. Global coal emissions must fall by 80 percent this decade to keep on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Analysis by Climate Analytics (PDF) shows that to meet this commitment, a coal phase-out is needed by:

Health impacts from burning coal

The air pollution impacts from burning coal are also considerable. They include:

A recent analysis found that more than 800,000 people around the world die each year from the pollution generated by burning coal. A phase-out of coal will mean real improvements in air quality and human health.

Join the Powering Past Coal Alliance

The PPCA is looking for governments, businesses and organizations committed to helping phase out the use of unabated coal power. Learn more about private-sector participation: how to join, commitments, governance, and more.

How Canada is taking action

Stringent regulations on coal-fired electricity

In 2013, Canada became the first country in the world to introduce regulations requiring coal-fired power plants to meet stringent performance standards to limit their greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions. In 2016, Canada went further, announcing a phase-out of unabated coal-fired electricity by 2030.

The Government of Canada has since amended national regulations by setting a limit on greenhouse gas emissions from unabated coal power plants in the lead-up to 2030. As a result, operating a coal-fired power plant will be unfeasible without the use of carbon capture and storage technology. Currently, only the Boundary Dam 3 coal power plant in Saskatchewan uses this technology.

In addition, Canada's Output-Based Pricing System is designed to ensure there is a price incentive for large industrial emitters – including coal, natural gas and diesel-fired electricity generation facilities – to reduce their GHG emissions.

Phasing out coal electricity in Canada will eliminate more than 12 million tonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gases by 2030 and nearly 100 Mt by 2050.

Establishing a Net-Zero Electricity Grid by 2035

Canada’s progress in phasing out coal has allowed the country to go further by committing to a net-zero electricity grid. Clean electricity will also help reduce emissions from other sectors, like industry, buildings, and transportation.

The Government of Canada is currently developing the Clean Electricity Regulations to guide the country’s transition to a net-zero electricity grid. A draft regulatory framework was released in July 2022 for consultation.

The proposed regulations and a cost-benefit analysis will be published for a formal consultation period in the first half of 2023. Once finalized, the regulations will provide regulatory certainty to support a competitive economy. This will permit the continued delivery of reliable and affordable electricity to households and businesses in Canada.

Just Transition Task Force

In an effort to better understand the impacts of phasing out coal and to support those affected, Canada launched the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities in 2018.  Published in early 2019, the Task Force’s report provided expert advice to help shape Canada’s approach to assist coal workers and communities affected by the transition to cleaner electricity. For more information please consult: Just Transition | Natural Resources Canada.

Canada Coal Transition Initiative

Currently, the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia generate a portion of their electricity from coal. Our data indicates that in 2020, electricity generation in these provinces due to coal is:

Below are all of the currently active coal-fired generating stations and thermal coal mines in Canada:

Active coal-fired generating stations in Canada
Company Unit name Province Commissioning year Electrical capacity (MWe) Net electrical capacity (MWe) 2018 coal regulations amendments – end of life (no flexibilities)
Maxim EnergyFootnote 1  H R Milner 1 Alberta 1972 150 144 December 31, 2019
Capital Power Genesee 2 Alberta 1989 410 400 December 31, 2029
Capital Power Genesee 1 Alberta 1994 410 400 December 31, 2029
Capital Power Genesee 3 Alberta 2005 495 466 December 31, 2029
New Brunswick Power Coleson Cove 3 New Brunswick 1977 350 350 December 31, 2019
New Brunswick Power Belledune 2 New Brunswick 1993 480 480 June 30, 2021
Nova Scotia PowerFootnote 2  Trenton 5 Nova Scotia 1969 156 150 December 31, 2019
Nova Scotia PowerFootnote 2  Point Tupper 1 Nova Scotia 1974 156 152 June 30, 2021
Nova Scotia PowerFootnote 2  Lingan 1 Nova Scotia 1979 165 153 December 31, 2029
Nova Scotia PowerFootnote 2  Lingan 2 Nova Scotia 1980 165 153 December 31, 2029
Nova Scotia PowerFootnote 2  Lingan 3 Nova Scotia 1983 155 158 December 31, 2029
Nova Scotia PowerFootnote 2  Lingan 4 Nova Scotia 1984 155 153 December 31, 2029
Nova Scotia PowerFootnote 2  Trenton 6 Nova Scotia 1991 165 157 December 31, 2029
Nova Scotia PowerFootnote 2  Point Aconi 1 Nova Scotia 1994 191 171 December 31, 2029
SaskPowerFootnote 2  Boundary Dam 3 Saskatchewan 1969 150 139, 115 with carbon capture and storage December 31, 2019
SaskPowerFootnote 2  Boundary Dam 4 Saskatchewan 1970 150 139 December 31, 2019
SaskPowerFootnote 2  Boundary Dam 5 Saskatchewan 1973 150 139 December 31, 2019
SaskPowerFootnote 2  Boundary Dam 6 Saskatchewan 1977 305 284 December 31, 2027
SaskPowerFootnote 2  Poplar River 2 Saskatchewan 1981 315 291 December 31, 2029
SaskPowerFootnote 2  Poplar River 1 Saskatchewan 1983 315 291 December 31, 2029
SaskPowerFootnote 2  Shand 1 Saskatchewan 1992 305 276 December 31, 2029
Active mines
Mine Owner Province Thermal/metal Operating/care and maintenance
Ryley/Dodds Dodds Coal Alberta thermal operating
Genesee Westmoreland Alberta thermal operating
Coal Valley Westmoreland Alberta thermal operating
Vista Coal Bighorn Mining Alberta thermal operating
Burtonsville Whissell Land Corp Alberta thermal operating
Donkin The Cline Group Nova Scotia metal/thermal (mostly metal) operating
Poplar River Westmoreland Saskatchewan thermal operating
Bienfait Westmoreland Saskatchewan thermal operating
Boundary Dam Westmoreland Saskatchewan thermal operating
Inactive mines
Mine Owner Province Thermal/metal Operating/care and maintenance
Paintearth Westmoreland Alberta thermal in reclamation – considered open
Sheerness Westmoreland Alberta thermal in reclamation – considered open
Basin Arthon Industries British Columbia thermal care and maintenance 2013
Obed Westmoreland Alberta thermal care and maintenance 2012
Highvale Transalta Alberta thermal in reclamation – considered open
Quinsam Vitol Netherlands Coöpertief U.A. British Columbia thermal care and maintenance 2019
Stellarton Pioneer Coal Nova Scotia thermal care and maintenance 2019

Helping developing countries

Climate Investment Funds Accelerated Coal Transition, 2021

In fall 2021, at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), Canada announced it will provide up to $1 billion to the Climate Investment Funds – Accelerated Coal Transition initiative. This investment will lead to:

Coal Transition initiative, 2022

In November of 2022, Canada announced two new initiatives from the Coal Transition initiative to helping developing countries transition to clean energy, funded under Canada’s $5.3 billion climate finance commitment:

  1. $5 million for the Southeast Asia Energy Transition Partnership to support coal phase-out in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
    • The Southeast Asia Energy Transition Partnership is a unique partnership of philanthropies and governments that provide expertise to support ambitious energy transition pathways in the Southeast Asia region.
  2. $5 million to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to support its Clean Energy Finance and Investment Mobilisation program.
    • Clean Energy Finance and Investment Mobilisation helps emerging economies attract private sector investment in clean energy.
    • Clean Energy Finance and Investment Mobilisation is currently operating in Indonesia, Vietnam, Columbia, India, Thailand, the Philippines, and Egypt.

Existing Canadian investments in developing countries

The 2021 and 2022 targeted contributions complement existing Canadian investments that are already having an impact in developing countries.

For example, Canada is supporting the Komati Just Energy Transition Project through its Clean Energy and Forests Climate Facility at the World Bank. The project will repurpose a recently decommissioned coal-powered station into a renewable generation site in Mpumalanga, South Africa, and serve as a model for similar coal power retirement and repurposing projects around the world.

Canada is also partnering with other countries and other donors to establish Just Energy Transition Partnerships in emerging economies. These Partnerships will bring coordinated finance to ambitious energy transition plans developed by the host countries themselves. At this year’s G7 Summit in Elmau, Germany, leaders agreed to work toward partnerships with India, Indonesia, Senegal, and Vietnam.

In December 2018, Canada committed up to $275 million to the World Bank to create the Energy Transition and Coal Phase-Out Program. This program will assist a number of developing countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, to phase-out their dependence on traditional coal-fired electricity generation. At the same time, it will support energy-efficient and renewable-energy alternatives to power their fast-growing economies. The program will also mobilize private-sector financial resources for climate action, and provide training and employment opportunities for women in clean energy sectors.

Quotes on the Powering Past Coal Alliance

Here's why environmental leaders around the world have committed to powering past coal:

 “Consigning coal to history is the only way to ensure a clean, sustainable future. The Powering Past Coal Alliance has helped ensure over three quarters of coal power in OECD member countries is retired or is scheduled to close by 2030. On top of that, proposed new coal projects have fallen by 76% globally.

Here in Canada, our legislated net-zero commitment, price on carbon and clean electricity regulations put us on track to end of unabated coal power by 2030.

This report shows us that momentum is accelerating as we head into COP27. It also sets out a clear challenge to the public and private sector: more must be done by working together.” 

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and PPCA co-Chair

 “It’s a great pleasure to welcome new members to the Alliance, which has done so much to drive remarkable progress on coal phase-out over the past five years.

A future without emissions from coal power is achievable, but it is vital that more governments and organizations join the Powering Past Coal Alliance, setting ambitious coal phase-out dates, to secure a just and secure clean-energy transition.”

The Right Honourable Graham Stuart, United Kingdom’s Minister of State in the Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero and Co-Chair of the Powering Past Coal Alliance

“We know that jurisdictions heavily reliant on coal can wean themselves off of it quickly, given the right supportive policies, as seen in the very rapid Ontario and Alberta Coal Phase Outs.

Our organization, being involved in these successes, is excited to lend our expertise and support to the Powering Past Coal Alliance so that these Canadian success stories can be replicated around the world, as it must if we are going to prevent true climate calamity.”

Dr. Joe Vipond, President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment  

“We’ve taken important steps towards ending coal use. In the U.S., we’ve closed more than two-thirds of coal plants in the last decade. In Europe, more than 50% of coal plants are now set to retire by 2030. That progress has helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deadly air pollution.

This report outlines the progress we’ve made globally and shows where and how we can do more – including ending subsidies for the coal industry and stopping private financing for new coal plants. The faster we cut coal use and accelerate the deployment of clean energy, the more lives we can save, and the better our chances of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.” 

Michael Bloomberg, United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions

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