The Beyond Coal Atlantic project launched in December 2020 with an ambitious goal: to get Atlantic Canada off coal and biomass energy as quickly as possible and transition to clean renewable energy. Many of the solutions already exist—such as wind, solar, and existing hydro from Quebec—but what’s been lacking is political and corporate will.
Coal is one of the dirtiest fuels used to generate electricity. Not only do coal-fired power plants account for 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but they also emit harmful pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), mercury, and ground-level ozone, all of which are dangerous to human health and the environment.
Biomass power plants, which use wood products, put significant pressure on already stressed forests and add to the problem of clear-cutting. In Nova Scotia alone, nearly half of the forests have been clear-cut over the past 30 years. What’s more, burning biomass for electricity generates more GHGs than coal!
Our campaign to get Atlantic Canada off coal and biomass is affiliated with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in the United States. Like our Sierra Club neighbours to the south, we know there’s no time to waste in the race against global warming, deforestation, melting sea ice, and more. In order to do our part to combat climate change, it’s imperative we switch to clean and renewable sources of energy.
That’s why we’re keeping a close eye on the energy alternatives being proposed by governments and the provincial utility companies. We don’t need fracked gas as a “transitional fuel” or another megadam like Muskrat Falls in Labrador, which devastated the surrounding land and waters and violated Indigenous rights. Nor should Atlantic Canada be forced to accept costly and experimental small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) and the legacy of toxic nuclear waste that comes with them.
It’s going to take more than a good plan to persuade the decision-makers to go green. It’s going to require a movement. That means all of us need to step up and speak up for a clean and healthy environment.
We’ll be there to support and amplify your efforts whenever we can. Over the past few months, we’ve worked closely with concerned citizens in Nova Scotia who are calling for ecological forestry and a temporary moratorium on clear-cutting on Crown Land. We spearheaded a social media campaign with the Coalition for Responsible Energy for New Brunswick to raise awareness about the federal government’s misguided multi-million dollar investment in SMR technology for the province. We’re collaborating with North American Megadam Resistance Alliance to challenge the proposed Gull Island project in Labrador — a megadam that would be even bigger and more environmentally devastating than Muskrat Falls.
We’re just getting started. We hope you’ll join us.
Image created by: Andrew Glencross