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Joint letter to Prime Minister Trudeau: Ban thermal coal exports!

To: The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Re: Commitment to Ban Thermal Coal Exports

We, the undersigned organizations, wish to congratulate you on your recent election victory and to urge you to take swift action in implementing your commitment to ban thermal coal exports from and through Canada.

Canadian voters trusted your government to take swift action on climate change. Promptly implementing one of your key commitments, a thermal coal export ban, would be a clear way to demonstrate that your government is committed to taking serious action on climate change. We therefore call on your government to immediately take steps to instigate a coal export ban. Specifically, we ask that your mandate letters call for a full ban on thermal coal exports by 2023, that you announce your government’s coal export ban before or during the forthcoming UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Glasgow and that the ban be formalized in law as soon as possible. Furthermore, the implementation of a ban must be fully consistent with Indigenous rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In response to public and Indigenous concerns about climate change and coal mining, your government has shown genuine leadership on thermal coal combustion and mining throughout your two previous mandates. This has included committing to phase out unabated coal fired power generation by 2030, co-founding the Powering Past Coal Alliance, instigating the Task Force on Just Transition for coal workers, requiring that all thermal coal mines be designated for review under the Impact Assessment Act and determining that such mines are likely to cause unacceptable environmental effects, and taking strong regulatory action to stop the dangerous expansion of the Vista coal mine.

However, your government’s real progress and leadership on thermal coal combustion and mining is being undermined by Canada’s continued role as an exporter of American and Canadian thermal coal. Canada exports between 10 and 13 million tonnes of American thermal coal every year through the Port of Vancouver. With the opening of the Vista Coal mine in mid-2019, we now export an additional 5 million tonnes out of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Once consumed, 15-18 million tonnes of coal can produce between 33-40 million tonnes of CO2e every year, the equivalent to 7.2-8.6 million passenger vehicles. This amount of annual emissions is more than double the cumulative amount of emissions your government estimated would be prevented over the next ten years by its decision to ban thermal coal combustion.1 We applaud your party’s leadership on this file but implore you to act on a timeline that is commensurate with the nature of the threat we are facing.

Opposition to thermal coal is strong across the country. Over the past year and a half there has been an unprecedented level of Indigenous and grassroots led opposition to coal mining, in particular in Alberta. The impacts of coal mining and transportation on Indigenous rights, communities, water, the environment and climate have highlighted the need for swift action. The local impacts from coal transportation and exports, particularly of American thermal coal, through one of Canada’s largest metropolitan areas are also a daily reminder of the unfinished task of ending thermal coal in this country.

The 49 organizations signing on to this letter and supporting these demands represent nearly 3 million people across Canada. Swift action to ban thermal coal exports would make your government a champion on this issue.

Prompt implementation of a ban by 2023 is also required to ensure regulatory certainty allowing a smooth transition of Canada’s export infrastructure away from thermal coal with minimal impacts on our shipping capacity and port workers.

We therefore call on you to ban thermal coal exports by no later than 2023.

We wish to congratulate you again on your election victory and look forward to working with you in the coming months on this important priority.


Tony Maas, Ecojustice
Julia Levin, Environmental Defence
Anjali Helferty, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Maggie Chao, LeadNow
Sven Biggs, Stand.earth
Christina Warner, Council of Canadians
Caroline Brouillette, Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau action climat Canada
Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada
Tom Green, David Suzuki Foundation
Susan Smitten, RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs)
Seth Klein, Climate Emergency Unit
Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee
Émile Boisseau-Bouvier, Équiterre
Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Helen Boyd, Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment
Tracey Saxby, My Sea to Sky
Andrew Gage, West Coast Environmental Law Association
Randal Macnair, Wildsight
Montana Burgess, West Kootenay EcoSociety
Tara Russell, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Northern Alberta
Katie Morrison, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Southern Alberta
Allison Richardson, Surrey for Future
Cam Fenton. 350.org
Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada
Theresa McClenaghan, Canadian Environmental Law Association
Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith
Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance
Adam Scott, Shift: Action for Pension Wealth & Planet Health
Cassie Barker, Women’s Healthy Environments Network
André-Yanne Parent, The Climate Reality Project Canada Dr. Andrea Hull, CAPE-AB Regional Committee
Barbara Berger, Comox Valley Chapter Council of Canadians
Brent Kopperson, Windfall Ecology Centre
Kim Perrotta, Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity
Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada
Cathy Orlando, Citizens Climate Lobby Canada
Alex Lidstone, Climate Caucus
Joan Lawrence, Calgary Climate Hub
Sustainabiliteens Association for Canadian Educational Resources
A. McLaren, Chase Environmental Action Group
Amelia Rose Khan, Toronto350
Michael Lewis, Synergia Cooperative Institute
Lyn Adamson, ClimateFast & Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Lyba Spring and Nick De Carlo, Seniors For Climate Action Now!
Climate Justice Victoria
Drawdown Toronto
Julien Langlois, Transition Kamloops Network

1. According to the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement for the Regulations Amending the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations the proposed amendments passed were expected to result in cumulative GHG emissions reduction of 16.3 Mt CO2e by 2030. Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 152, Number 7 (Feb 17, 2018).