A draft equivalency agreement between the federal and Nova Scotia governments foresees the burning of coal to generate electricity into the 2040s, according to the Ecology Action Centre. This could happen despite Ottawa’s November 2016 commitment to phase out coal electricity across Canada by 2030.
At the time of the 2016 announcement, the federal government acknowledged that the phase-out would be difficult for provinces heavily reliant on coal, such as Nova Scotia, and left open the door to relaxing the phase-out if additional reductions could be achieved elsewhere.
Nova Scotia has embraced that exception in a new draft equivalency agreement. Under an equivalency agreement, the federal government waives its standards if provincial standards are shown to produce an equivalent result.
The draft equivalency agreement, which will cover the period 2019 to 2024, includes projections through 2040. There, Nova Scotia forecasts an accelerated replacement of coal with emissions-free electricity from Muskrat Falls in the period 2020 to 2030, but business as usual afterward. The result? Nova Scotia’s emissions from the electricity sector will be below federal standards from 2020 to 2030, but above them from 2030 to 2040.
A quantitative analysis of projected emission reductions shows that over the period 2015 to 2040, it’s a wash. Under federal standards, Nova Scotia’s electricity sector would emit 142.9 Mt of CO2e. Under provincial standards, it would emit 142.5 Mt.
That’s not good enough, said Stephen Thomas, Energy Campaign Coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, decrying Nova Scotia’s lack of ambition post-2030.
“The health of Nova Scotians and the health of our economy depend on a path that diversifies our electricity sector toward affordable, clean electricity quickly. The pathway being proposed by the Nova Scotia government simply does not do that,” he said in a statement.
The federal government is inviting comment on the draft equivalency agreement by May 29, 2019.