The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reinforces the urgent need to cut our emissions in the fight to limit global warming.
As we transition away from carbon and encourage the use of electric vehicles on our roads and electric-powered heat pumps in our homes, the use of fossil fuels in our electricity mix is untenable. Under the current plans of the Ontario government, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator states that the emissions from gas plants would rise by 300% by 2030, tripling carbon emissions from electricity at a time when we are aiming to move towards net-zero carbon emissions.
Emissions from natural gas plants include methane as well as carbon. Methane is believed to account for a quarter of the world’s global warming presently and possesses about 80 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period. Simply put, gas-fired power plants must be phased out if we are to meet our climate commitments.
Thanks to the phase-down of coal in the United States, the risk of premature death due to the burning of fuels for electricity, homes and businesses there fell up to 60 percent from 2008 to 2017, Harvard researchers found in a new study. However, in at least 19 states, the researchers found that natural gas combustion emissions from stationary sources led to more deaths than emissions from coal. “Swapping one air pollution-emitting fuel source for another is not a pathway to a healthy energy system” says lead author Jonathan Buonocore Sc.D.
Besides climate and health advantages, there are also economic benefits to moving away from natural gas. We have already seen that renewable energy can be cheaper than natural gas, plus there is significant job creation potential in renewable energy as we look to build back greener after the pandemic. Ontario has already led the way across Canada in cutting coal out of our electricity mix. It is time to step up again and phase out gas-powered electricity plants so that we can start to make good on our climate commitments, as well as safeguard our health and economy.
Councillor Shawn Menard is bringing a motion to the Environment Committee on September 21 to phase out gas power plants across the province and to bolster hydro and other renewables such as solar and wind. 30 municipalities across Ontario are demanding the province phase out gas-fired electricity generation by 2030. Join us and the Ontario Clean Air Alliance in calling on the City of Ottawa to do the same. Write your councillor about this issue and sign up to speak to the issue at the Environment Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 21 at 9:30am. To register to speak to the gas plant phase-out motion being presented by Councillor Shawn Menard, write to [email protected].
Now is the time for the City of Ottawa to demonstrate the value behind the unanimous Climate Emergency Declaration in 2019.