No More Pipelines

Help keep BC LNG-free.

For most of us, only one thing is more baffling than the rhetoric surrounding the natural gas and LNG plans for British Columbia – the numbers concerning greenhouse gas emissions that would result from those plans being enacted. The Pembina Institute has published an excellent overview, BC LNG Proposals and GHG Emissions. This overview is based on projections from two LNG processing plants coming onstream on the BC coast, and being powered by natural gas-fired generators. Two such plants have approval and are being built - sort-of. Advocates of twelve more plants are currently in the application process. So, the projections of this report can be considered grossly conservative.

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Here are the key nuggets from the report:

  • Through The Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act of 2007, the province of BC is committed by law to a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 33 percent (compared to 2007 levels) by 2020; and of 50 percent by 2050.
  • The provincial target for GHG emissions in 2020 is 40 million tonnes. In 2010, BC emitted 62 million tonnes of GHG.
  • The activities connected with supplying and operating two LNG plants that would export 24 million tonnes of LNG per year, would create 21.2 million tonnes of GHG emissions in BC per year. Two plants are expected to be operational with that capacity by 2020. Two more may be operational by then; thus, these numbers could double. Thus, at the low end of possibility, the LNG industry will account for at least 50 percent of the GHG emissions allowable in the province by 2020; at the high end of possibility, it would account for all of them. To compensate, all other users in BC will have to reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent in that timeframe.
  • If the GHG emissions from "regassifying" the LNG at terminals in Asia, and then burning the product there are included in the low-end scenario, another 62 million tonnes of GHG will be added to the atmosphere each year. By way of comparison, Alberta's oil sands activities currently contribute 48 million tonnes of GHG to the atmosphere each year.
  • The debate as to whether natural gas is a "cleaner" source of energy than coal has many aspects to it. If you consider only the point of combustion, natural gas is cleaner, but when you consider the many environmentally degrading aspects of the extraction, transmission, processing, and combustion of natural gas, it is not a cleaner source of energy. The assumption also is that natural gas will displace coal use in export countries. In some cases it will, but in many cases, increased natural gas use will be added to the continued use of coal in ramped-up manufacturing economies, resulting in a substantial net addition to the global GHG scenario.

Bringing some of these numbers "home" to British Columbians:

One gas-powered LNG facility would produce 2 million tonnes of GHG emissions each year, on site. - which is just about what the city of Vancovuer produced in 2010. Remember, LNG facilities that use natural gas to generate electricity will be exempt from
The Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act.
The 1.8 million homes in BC presently produce 4.5 million tonnes of GHG emissions each year. The legislated target for residential emissions by 2020 equates to 3 million tonnes.

If connected to the BC Hydro grid, each gas-powered LNG facility would use 5,000 GWh of electricity each year.
The present residential demand for electricity in BC is 17,650 GWh each year.

Source: Forest Ethics Advocacy

Being a
"climate leader" requires that a government considers all of the consequences that will result from its policies. By excluding the natural gas industry emissions from the targets of The Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act , and by excluding the emissions that will result from the the uses of LNG in export countries, the BC government is being deceptive in its commitment to reducing climate change. Christy Clark recently back-pedalled on her intention of having the "cleanest LNG" in the world, to having the "cleanest LNG plants" - meaning, no inclusion of impacts and emissions "upstream." It's become a case of business-as-unusual. Read here for a detailed discussion of what the BC government and industry must do to if LNG is to live up to Christy Clark's promises.