Greenhouse gas trial balloon leaks

Tom Fletcher looks at LNG and greenhouse emissions.

VICTORIA – Last week I described the inevitable demise of B.C.’s “carbon neutral government” scheme, which continues to take millions from hospitals and schools to fund greenhouse gas reduction projects of questionable value.

It’s like the AirCare program, a pollution solution that sounded great at the time. AirCare soon found itself chasing diminishing environmental returns, made redundant by new vehicle technology and the financial need to save fuel. Public sector carbon offsets will suffer the same fate, growing as a political liability as their effectiveness declines.

All this is separate from B.C.’s carbon tax and greenhouse gas reduction program, another environmental trial balloon that is sinking back to Earth.

Former premier Gordon Campbell’s climate goals officially remain in place: 33 per cent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020 and a whopping 80 per cent by 2050. If the gas boom proceeds as planned, B.C. domestic emissions will not be down, but up substantially by 2020.

New liquefied natural gas export proposals continue to pop up, the latest ones on former industrial sites near Squamish and Campbell River. And with the surge of LNG activity around Kitimat and Prince Rupert already changing the landscape, questions linger about the pollution and greenhouse gas impacts.

As she left for the government’s largest ever trade mission to Asia, Premier Christy Clark dismissed a study that estimated the impact of three LNG plants. That study, done by Kitimat environment group Skeena Wild, assumed “direct drive” technology to chill and compress gas for export. It concluded that three plants would burn two and a half times the amount of natural gas currently used in Metro Vancouver.

Clark and Environment Minister Mary Polak relied on the same talking point to reject the study. The technology of powering LNG is still being negotiated, as producers work towards environmental permits, so the total can’t be calculated yet.

BC Hydro is predicting little electricity demand for LNG until after 2020, which suggests the early development will either be direct drive, the industry standard and simplest method, or building one or more gas-fired power plants in northwest B.C. Even if gas usage is only equivalent to one Lower Mainland, it’s plain to see greenhouse gas emissions are going up.

Clark has repeatedly argued that B.C. LNG should get credit for displacing coal in China and elsewhere.

I asked Polak if the international community would accept B.C.’s assertion that emissions from our LNG production shouldn’t count.

“We haven’t said we won’t count them,” Polak replied. “What the premier’s talked about and I’ve talked about is that this whole issue of how one accounts for greenhouse gases in a particular region is one that is constantly evolving. There are regularly changes to the international standards for accounting for these things and reporting them. And certainly the ability for one jurisdiction to impact positively on the GHG emissions of another, we think is appropriately considered in how one accounts for these things.”

Clark visited the Jiangsu LNG import facility in China that could be a key export destination.

Globe and Mail China correspondent Nathan Vanderklippe covered the premier’s visit. He reports that the gas being imported at Jiangsu isn’t replacing coal. It’s being used in addition to coal in peak demand periods.

Clark also visited Japan, another key customer for LNG. The whole world knows why Japan needs new energy sources. It needs to replace production from its disaster-tainted nuclear facilities.

Will B.C. LNG be part of the solution to human-induced climate change? On the evidence so far, the answer is no.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. tfletcher@blackpress.ca

 

Just Posted

Port Hardy’s RCMP Staff Sgt. Wes Olsen: ‘It’s business as usual’ after cannabis legalization

Local RCMP will still be on the lookout for impaired driving despite cannabis legalization.

Jay Dixon finishes top three for School and District Leadership award

“I believe it’s all of our responsibility for our schools to provide quality education,” said Dixon.

7 Mile Landfill operations tender closes October

Taxes covering the landfill have not increased over the past 15 years and are not expected to soon.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

San Group announces plans to build new sawmill in Port Alberni

San Group has purchased 25 acres of Catalyst Paper land for expansion

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

Port Hardy municipal candidate Rick Marcotte’s profile

“I feel that we have had a wonderful council that can discuss issues of importance,” said Marcotte.

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

Port Hardy municipal election candidate Leightan Wishart’s profile

Wishart speaks on his experience: “I’ve was elected to the School Board in 2002.”

Most Read