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Speech for

The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.,

Minister of the Environment

Announcement of the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-Fired Generation of Electricity Regulations

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

September 5, 2012

Good afternoon!

As I have stated many times, Canada is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Canadaalready boasts one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world, with three-quarters of our electricity supply emitting no greenhouse gases at all.

However, coal-fired electricity is responsible for 77 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector in Canada, and 11 percent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Clearly, if we want to make headway on reducing emissions, we have to take a hard look at coal-fired plants.

And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. Last August, we proposed stringent regulations for coal-fired electricity. Today, I’m pleased to announce the final regulations have been released.

We are also defining the useful life of a generating plant as those that have reached 50 years since starting to produce electricity commercially. However, as a transition measure:

  • Units that were commissioned before 1975 will reach their end-of-life after 50 years of operation or at the end of 2019, whichever comes earlier.
  • Units commissioned in or after 1975 but before 1986 will reach their end-of-life after 50 years of operation or at the end of 2029, whichever comes earlier.

The United States is also moving towards lower or non-emitting types of generation — from high-efficiency natural gas and renewable energy to coal with carbon capture and storage.

Here in Canada, we can expect to see a cumulative reduction in emissions of about 214 megatonnes in the first 21 years. That’s equivalent to removing some 2.6 million vehicles from the road every year during this period.

Our progress on coal-fired electricity exemplifies how the Government of Canada is working with our partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have consulted extensively with both the provinces and industry and they have contributed to strengthening our approach.

We have also recently announced that we are working with the Governments of Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan on an equivalency agreement to prevent duplicative coal-fired electricity regulations, and our Government is open to discussions with other provinces and territories.

These new regulations can only strengthen our position as a global leader in electricity production – something all Canadians can be proud of.

But today’s announcement is really part of a longer term strategy — the latest step in our sector-by-sector approach to reduce emissions and meet our 2020 target.

In October 2010, for example, our Government announced final greenhouse gas emissions regulations for light-duty vehicles for the 2010-2016 model years. And earlier this spring, I announced tough new proposed regulations for on-road heavy-duty vehicles.

Moving forward, we will continue to tackle emissions from all major sectors of the Canadian economy to move us closer to our goal.

Thank you.