Victoria, B.C. – A report released by the Dogwood Initiative today reveals the rapidly expanding global warming impacts of B.C. coal and criticizes the provincial government for allowing these emissions to grow unchecked.

“It will be a surprise to many British Columbians that our province is a major exporter of coal, the world’s most pollution-intensive form of energy,” said Will Horter, executive director of Dogwood Initiative and author of the report. “Instead of taking leadership in the battle to reduce emissions from coal, the B.C. government is promoting the expansion of coal mining and coal exports.”

In 2008 (the last year for which production and pollution data is available), 54.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent were created when coal mined in B.C. was burned elsewhere – equivalent to the annual pollution from 14 coal-fired power plants, more than are currently operating in all of Canada. 

While B.C. has set a target to reduce emissions by 33 per cent from 2007 levels by 2020, this target does not include the emissions from the burning of coal mined in B.C. and exported through our expanding coal ports. The total global warming pollution created by burning B.C. coal elsewhere almost doubles the province’s contribution to global warming.

“B.C. can’t abdicate responsibility for these emissions,” Horter said. “Imagine the response if a Colombian cocaine cartel claimed it had no responsibility because most of their addictive products are consumed in other countries.”

Burning coal has been singled out as the largest cause of global warming. The coal reserves in B.C’s proposed and operating coal mines, if burned, would produce 14.8 billion tonnes of heat-trapping pollution, amounting to 6.35 per cent of the total carbon emissions scientists believe humanity can safely emit globally in the next 90 years.

“Allowing the B.C. coal industry to produce almost 100 times our per-capita amount of carbon for the next 90 years is unacceptable,” Horter said. “The greatest weakness of the B.C. government’s climate plan is not what it regulates but what it omits.”

When the report was written, 18 new coal mines were at various stages of approval in B.C. The province is also exporting an ever-growing amount of U.S. coal; in 2010, these exports accounted for one-third of Westshore Terminals’ total volume. Westshore’s coal terminal at Roberts Bank, beside Tsawwassen ferry terminal, is the biggest exporter of coal in North America.

“Big coal in the U.S. is running out of domestic markets as regulations tighten up and power plants are shut down,” Horter said.  “These companies are looking for export markets overseas, and they are turning to B.C. to get their coal off the continent.”

Despite this growing role in the coal trade, most of B.C.’s citizens have been kept in the dark about their province’s growing role in global warming. “British Columbians, especially Vancouverites working hard to make their city the greenest city in the world, will be shocked to find out their ports are now the single largest exporter of global warming pollution in North America,” Horter said.

Download the report:

Contact: Will Horter

Executive Director

Dogwood Initiative

Phone: 250-418-1672

The Dogwood Initiative brings together everyday British Columbians to take back decision-making power over their air, land and water.