Alberta’s electricity sector produces almost as much carbon pollution as the tar sands/oil sands, even though Canada’s well-known diluted bitumen fields receive far more attention, according to Power to Change, a new report by James Glave of Clean Energy Canada and Ben Thibault of the Pembina Institute.
“On an annual basis, Alberta’s coal-fired electricity releases roughly the same quantity of greenhouse gases as half of all the passenger vehicles on the roads in the entire country, in addition to health-damaging sulphur and nitrogen oxides, mercury, and particulate matter,” the report states. “This is due, in large part, to the province’s continued reliance on coal.”
“Alberta is parked on top of 33.3 billion recoverable tonnes of the stuff, or 70% of Canada’s reserves,” DeSmog reports. “But like the oilsands, coal extraction and combustion comes with a host of human health and environmental costs,” before even factoring in its climate impacts.
“When burned, coal releases an enormous amount of sulphur dioxide and mercury, in addition to nitrous oxides, lead, chromium, arsenic, and fine particulates that can lead to a smorgasbord of respiratory and cardiac issues,” Wilt writes. “A 2013 report found that, when combined with annual health and environmental damages, the price consumers pay for using coal power in Alberta doubles or even triples. That report estimated the average annual tab for coal-related health costs runs as high as $300 million a year.”
Last month, Dr. Joe Vipond of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment reported that air pollution in Edmonton is worse than in Toronto, a city with five times the population.