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

VIDEO: North Island Peewee Eagles unleash avalanche of goals against Peninsula in semi-final showdown

The two teams squared up on Sunday morning at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill.

North Island Seniors Housing Foundation takes the next step towards getting Trustee Road land

Seniors rejoice, Port Hardy council is very much in favour of helping… Continue reading

Port Hardy Volleyball club requests funding from Port Hardy council

The sport of Volleyball is alive and well in the North Island,… Continue reading

Should aquaculture programs be offered at North Island College in Port Hardy?

“I think it would be very timely to have an aquaculture program”

Island Health issues press release regarding Port Alice Health Centre service changes

Island Health will be hosting a community meeting in Port Alice Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in the rec centre.

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘deeply disappointed; Steelhead says funding is the problem

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Most Read