Dogwood Initiative Exposes BC's Dirty Coal Export Secret

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British Columbia plays a special role in the pollution and warming of the atmosphere, according a new report from the Dogwood Initiative on BC’s rapidly expanding coal industry and its implications for the province’s contributions to climate disruption. 

The BC government plans to reduce emissions by 33 percent from 2007 levels by 2020. Yet BC is preparing to emit more than its fair share of climate threatening pollution due to the province’s steady increase in coal production and export.

As the Dogwood Initiative report shows, BC is outsourcing more than just dirty energy: the province’s carbon emissions are nearly doubled when you factor in BC coal burnt in other countries.

Using the most recent figures available, Will Horter, executive director of the Dogwood Initiative, calculates that BC coal burnt outside of the province created 54.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2008 alone. This is the same amount of annual output from 14 coal fired power plants, which is more than the combined total of operating coal plants across Canada.
 
BC can’t abdicate responsibility for these emissions,” says Horter in a press release. “Imagine the response if a Colombia cocaine cartel claimed it had no responsibility because most of their addictive products are consumed in other countries.”
 
Horter’s research is of no small consequence. From the press release:
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.
 
For Horter, BC’s leaders should be made accountable. “Allowing the BC coal industry to produce almost 100 times our per-capita amount of carbon for the next 90 years is unacceptable,” he says. “The greatest weakness of the BC government’s climate plan is not what it regulates but what it omits.”
 
On top of BC’s proposed 18 new coal mines, the province also facilitates the export of the dirty fuel from our neighbors to the south.

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

 
Horter is right to think that British Columbians will be shocked to discover their province is the single largest exporter of coal in North America. 
 
 
For background you can also read the Dogwood Initiative’s earlier report “The Citizen’s Handbook on Coal Mining in British Columbia.”

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