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press release

Ecojustice reacts to NDP Bill to ban thermal coal exports 

February 14, 2024

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE – Ecojustice applauds MP Laurel Collins for kicking off the legislative process for a proposed law that, once in force, would ban the export of thermal coal from Canada. The group says that the Bill tabled earlier today by the NDP environment critic, holds the Liberal government to task for a promise they made to voters to ban thermal coal exports by or before 2030. 

Melanie Snow, government relations and campaign specialist at Ecojustice said:  

“This is exactly the kind of initiative we need to see at this point in the mandate. The Liberals have been painstakingly slow to move on their promise to ban thermal coal exports by or before 2030. 

“According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal are the ‘single largest source of global temperature increase.’ Canada still exports millions of tonnes of Canadian and American thermal coal through our West Coast ports every year. Data from the IEA also shows that global emissions from coal-fired power plants grew by more than two per cent from the previous year in 2022, led by increases in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs).  

“At COP28 in December world leaders were able to cement in the text of the final agreement something we have known for years: that fossil fuels are driving climate change, and we need to ‘transition away’ from them. As part of this transition Canada must do its part to help the world leave thermal coal behind and live up to the ambitious tone it has set through political commitments including membership in the Powering Past Coal Alliance. Coal has no place in a world serious about tackling the climate crisis. All pathways to 1.5 degrees Celsius see its use rapidly declining in the next decade. There is no time to waste.” 


In 2022, Canada exported over 18 million tonnes of Canadian and American thermal coal, mostly through our West Coast ports. When burned in coal plants overseas, this causes 40 million tonnes of carbon pollution — the same annual emissions as 8.7 million cars on the road. 

Between 2015 and 2022, the amount of Canadian thermal coal exported overseas increased by more than 300 per cent.  

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, steep reductions of thermal coal are required by 2030 to prevent the most dangerous impacts of global warming. The United Nations Environment Program recently found that a near total phase-out of coal production was necessary by 2040.  

Each year, burning thermal coal is responsible for more than 800,000 premature deaths due to the choking smog it produces when burned. Air pollution from thermal coal plants has been linked to chronic heart and respiratory disease as well as a range of other health problems. It also contains high levels of mercury, which can cause serious birth defects in unborn babies. 


Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions, law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.