Opinion – Contributed by Michelle Stirling © Nov. 2017

Part One

At the recent #COP23 Conference of the Parties (to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change for Canada, took the lead to announce the development of an alliance called #PoweringPastCoal – saying to CBC The National that: “hard things are hard” …to do, but she declared there are viable alternatives now and that “the market has moved on.”  It’s so funny with CBC, hard to know when they are reporting or just repeating. Whatever the case, Rosemary Barton asked no hard questions about how hard it would be to reach this quest for the “Holy Grail” of coal-less-ness world-wide. Not to mention that most of the members of the #PoweringPastCoal alliance are countries that already use very little coal.


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We reject the Minister’s statements on several grounds, some of which are addressed in our responsive video.  This blog will provide more detail and references supporting our position.

It is concerning that the Minister seems to want to pick a fight with dozens of other countries that rely on coal for industry, economy, power and light. Many of these countries have millions of people who are desperately poor. Coal has given them industry, jobs and source of heat and light, albeit with air pollution concerns in places that use old coal technology or if coal is burned on open grates.  But ground level pollution in these countries is more caused by the open flame burning of biomass – dung, wood, garbage. People do this due to the lack of central power for cooking, as well as the lack of home heating, water and sanitation systems.



And some of these coal-burning countries are extremely large and powerful players – several are trade partners of Canada. Is it really our place to tell other countries what their energy policies should be?  Especially when such sovereign rights are protected under the UN Charter and WTO.  And, is it even technically feasible to consider phasing out Terawatts of coal power?  BOE reports that there are line-ups of loaded coal trucks, 80 miles long, waiting to deliver their load from Mongolia to China.

In her CBC and CTV interviews, McKenna said: “The market has moved on” meaning that one way the West is trying to block coal use as affordable, reliable energy (that is driving competition from developing nations) is that Western banks and the World Bank are working together to block financing for coal plants in developing nations. This is a terribly discriminatory practise that should make every Social Justice Warrior shout – but the SJWs are too busy counting their offsets as they fly between climate conferences, busy saving the planet.

Former diplomat and public servant Robert Lyman writes about this crime against humanity in “Saving the World on the Backs of the Poor.”

But poor nations are not the only ones that will suffer from Western bankers and investors blocking coal.

Canadian coal-producing provinces will also be decimated.  In Alberta, where coal is often providing more than 70% of the baseline power and where industry and commercial operations consume ~75% of the power generated, wind and solar will not cut it.

Here’s a reminder of why. Dec. 10, 2016.

aeso dec 10 2016 8 59 pm NO WIND

aeso dec 10 2016 8 58pm NO WIND

Source: AESO – Alberta Electric System Operator – Above tables show source and Total Net Generated on Dec. 10, 2016. Up-to-date reports available at  http://ets.aeso.ca/ets_web/ip/Market/Reports/CSDReportServlet (updates every 15 minutes)

Historical reports: https://www.aeso.ca/market/market-and-system-reporting/


And what kind of conflicts will #PoweringPastCoal create with our largest trading partner, the US, which appears to be “propping up” (to quote the Minister) the world’s economies and industries with its massive coal exports.  Since coal provides about 30% of the world’s energy, this is a bit more than “propping” up and that is a pretty “hard thing.” A fact.  A fact that must be faced.

bp shares of global primary energy consumption lyman sept 9 2017

Further, the US itself is powered >30% by coal.

US EIA [pwer gen by source

Continued: See Part Two

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


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