When we flick on the light switch or run our appliances, most of us don't think about where our electricity comes from. Many Canadians think our electricity simply comes from hydroelectric generation. As such, we do not associate it with the images of smoke stacks and billowing plumes that we see south of our border or elsewhere in the world where coal-fired electricity gets more attention.
The reality is that the combination of electricity sources—and therefore the qualities and characteristics of the electricity system—depend on where we live in the country. Some provinces live up to the common conception of predominantly hydroelectric power, but six provinces still burn coal to generate electricity and three of these—Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia—rely more on coal than any other source of electricity combined.
Provinces that are heavily coal-power-reliant experience a range of social and environmental costs from its combustion. By direct comparison—kilowatt-hour for kilowatt-hour—coal power is the dirtiest major source of power in Canada. It is also the highest contributor to greenhouse gases (GHGs). These emissions come with serious environmental and health costs—costs that clearly undermine the view that coal power is “cheap.” However, provincial leadership, particularly in Ontario, is proving that historical reliance on coal power can be traded in for cleaner, more reliable and more cost-effective alternative sources of electricity.
In light of the high GHG emissions from coal power, Environment Canada’s proposed regulations begin to reduce GHG emissions from the coal sector. While this is a step in the right direction, important opportunities to improve the regulations could provide better results. Worryingly, there are indications that some industry players are asking that Environment Canada weaken the proposed regulations, asking for changes that would reduce the expected GHG reductions by more than half over the first 15 years after the regulations come into effect.
This report makes clear that, despite popular misconceptions, Canada’s electricity is not, in all cases, “clean.” Nor is coal power particularly “cheap” when considering its high social and environmental costs. By acknowledging the real costs of our current electricity grid, we can better identify the need for an energy transition within Canada’s electricity sector. Alternatives are available today, and given the scale of the pollution caused by coal electricity highlighted in this report, that transition needs leadership now.
Read the Pembina Institute's full report by clicking here.
The aptly named diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being pecked by birds and even run over by cars. When early entomologists tried to mount them as specimens, BBC News explained, that exoskeleton would snap or bend their pins.
- How to Save Insects - EcoWatch ›
- New Report Documents Global Insect Decline - EcoWatch ›
- How a Plastic-Eating Caterpillar Could Help Solve the World's ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Singapore Will Plant One Million Trees by 2030 - EcoWatch ›
- Australia to Build the World's Largest Solar Farm to Power Singapore ›
- Giant Water Battery Cuts University's Energy Costs by $100 Million ... ›
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
By Tara Lohan
In 1999 a cheering crowd watched as a backhoe breached a hydroelectric dam on Maine's Kennebec River. The effort to help restore native fish populations and the river's health was hailed as a success and ignited a nationwide movement that spurred 1,200 dam removals in two decades.
Transmission lines from the Churchill Falls generating station in Labrador. Douglas Spott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Atlantic sturgeon were brought to the brink of extension in the 20th century and are now are listed as an endangered species. NOAA
Near Happy Valley-Goose Bay on the Churchill (Grand) River downstream from Muskrat Falls. Douglas Sprott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia in 2017. Jason Woodhead / CC BY 2.0
The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island is the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Dennis Schroeder / NREL / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.
- Earth Is Hurtling Towards a Catastrophe Worse Than the Dinosaur ... ›
- Are We Doomed If We Don't Curb Carbon Emissions by 2030 ... ›
- Humans Release 40 to 100x More CO2 Than Volcanoes, Major ... ›