Al Gore praises Ontario for its commitment to ban coal

English: The Lakeview coal-fired power plant, ...

The Lakeview coal-fired power plant, in Mississauga, shortly before its demolition in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toronto – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, together with special guest former US Vice-President Al Gore, recently announced the elimination of coal-fired electricity in Ontario.

The largest coal plant in North America—Nanticoke Generating Station on the north shore of Lake Erie—will stop burning coal this year.

As global climate talks enter the final hours in Europe, Ontario is proving that meaningful action on climate change is possible.

“Ontario has shown the world that bold action on climate change can be done,” said Tim Gray of Environmental Defence, an Ontario-based environmental group that advised on the ambitious energy initiative. “Ontarians should feel proud to live in the first jurisdiction in North America that is kicking the coal habit, and we hope others follow this lead.”

A decade ago, coal-fired electricity made up 25 percent of Ontario’s energy needs, at a cost of $4.4 billion to the province when the environmental and health impacts were considered.

The elimination of coal from Ontario’s grid is the largest greenhouse gas reduction project on the continent. In 2005, there were 53 smog days in Ontario and in 2013 there have only been two.

“To solve the climate crisis, we need people, provinces and countries to show the way forward towards a coal-free, sustainable future,” said Gore at the event. “Ontario has distinguished itself as a leader in Canada and around the world.”

The Nanticoke generating station alone produced nearly 18 million tonnes of CO2e in 2005, the equivalent of 3.7 million cars on the road.

At the same event, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, which will permanently ban coal-fired electricity from the province, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to do so.

In just the past four years, more than 7,100 megawatts of new renewable energy projects have been installed or announced and an estimated 31,000 jobs created as a result.

More than 25,000 homes, farms, schools, churches and businesses have installed or have plans to build small-scale grid-connected Solar PV projects.