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On Thursday, Environmental Defence hosted Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and former U.S. Vice-President and Chairman of the Climate Reality Project, Al Gore, at an event to announce the elimination of coal-fired electricity in Ontario.

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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. “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. Ontario has distinguished itself as a leader in Canada and around the world,” said former U.S. Vice-President Gore. “It is heartening to see the tremendous progress that has been made here and it is my hope that others will quickly follow suit.” 

The Nanticoke generating station alone produced nearly 18 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, the equivalent of 3.7 million cars on the road.

Also on Thursday, 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 also installed or been accepted to build small-scale grid-connected Solar PV projects. Ontario’s only serious competitor in North America for installations of solar power has been California.

Visit EcoWatch’s COAL page for more related news on this topic.

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