Ontario Coal Phase-Out Generates Lessons for Advocates
The Ontario Clean Air Alliance is out with a retrospective on its successful, 17-year campaign to phase out coal-generated electricity in Canada’s largest, most populous province.
“While it took until 2014 to actually see all five plants end coal burning, the use of coal had dropped to negligible levels as early as 2011 (at that point accounting for less than 3% of the province’s electricity generation),” writes report author Brad Cundiff. “The result was the largest single reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in North America—the equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road.”
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The campaign also proved “that it was possible to take meaningful action on climate change and air quality without stalling economic growth or lowering quality of life. In 2014, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in the world to completely end the use of coal for electricity generation to achieve health and environmental goals.”
The report explores 10 themes and lessons learned: Framing the argument, building wide-ranging alliances, framing a reasonable, easy-to-understand alternative, promoting a phased transition to full phase-out, quantifying the health and environmental impacts of coal burning, finding the right messengers, taking advantage of a changing political landscape, taking the long view, and creating opportunities for bold political leadership.