ontario-kicks-coalPollution-wary government officials in Ontario, Canada have taken the Green pledge to heart and will finally introduce legislation this week that will not only completely ban coal burning within its boundaries, but will also prohibit the construction of any new coal plants within the province.

Ontario also expects to complete the conversion of the huge Nanticoke Generation Station to biomass by the end of 2013. At one time, the plant was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in all of Ontario, but provided only 4 gigawatts of baseline electricity. Now it will serve to “top off” demands during peak electrical consumption hours, having had about half of its generating units dismantled over the past few years.

Not that the Province of Ontario is short of power. No, not by a longshot. With an aggressive combination of ultra efficient habits and an effective renewables reclamation program, and then by adding nuclear and natural gas into the electricity generation equation, Ontario has actually become a major exporter of excess electricity. Last year alone, the province sold 10 terawatts of redundant energy to Canada's surrounding territories and provinces. Ontario's admirable weaning of its dependence on coal actually began in 1990 and accelerated with the passage of the Green Energy Act in 2009. In the two past decades, the province's greenhouse gas emissions dropped a full three percent, achieving half of Canada's commitment to the United Nation's Kyoto Protocol, which called for a vast program of pollution reduction in all the world's industrialized nations. To sweeten the pot, when taking into account Ontario's rapid growth during the same time period, per capita emissions dropped an amazing 24 percent, and the expectation is that emission reductions will surpass the 25 percent mark when coal is completely eliminated next year.

Though the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol was originally set to expire at the end of 2013, recent contentious negotiations at the United Nations climate talks ultimately concluded with an agreement to extend the life of the Protocol to 2020. Unfortunately, two of the world's worst polluting nations, the United States and China, did not sign the Protocol and are not cooperating with worldwide efforts to reduce emissions. As such, the diluted Protocol covers only about 15 percent of the world's carbon output, but every little bit helps.

If only Canada could stop air pollution at its borders, perhaps it would not have to continue to suffer at the hands of the United States' second hand smog belched out by coal plants in nearby Michigan.

Image Credit: Shutterstock


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