Friday, December 13, 2019

Canadian LNG exports are no solution to climate change

New Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has injected an element of realism into the Liberal climate change plan when he plays down the prospect of Canada's being able to use exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) to produce carbon credits for Canada, despite what the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers may think.
Canada and some other countries have been feverishly  working on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which holds out the possibility of one country earning emissions credits when it exports a lower emissions fuel to another country. If that sounds to you a bit like smoke and mirrors and creative accounting, you may be right. Ex-Environment Minister Catherine McKenna seemed very keen on the idea, but new recruit Wilkinson is furiously back-pedalling and reducing expectations.  He has been quite clear that, in his view, Article 6 offers Canada no immediate promise for LNG.
And quite rightly too. There is little to no evidence that Canadian LNG exports will ever be accepted by the UN framework as a source of carbon credits. When British Columbia (which is where most of our LNG comes from) produces LNG, it substantially increases Canada's carbon emissions. LNG may create less greenhouse gases than coal per unit of energy - although even that is debatable, given that LNG produces much more methane than coal, in addition to carbon dioxide, and methane is a much more potent, if less long-lived, greenhouse gas than CO2 - but it is far from a zero-emission solution.
As the Globe's editorial today points out, if Canada exports LNG to say China, can we argue that we should get credit for reducing China's (and the world's) greenhouse gas production? Can it not be just as easily argued that it has increased the world's greenhouse gases by discouraging Chinese investment in zero-emission renewables? And why anyway should Canada and not China get that credit? And good luck negotiating such an issue with China in particular.
Anyway, I have always found BC's narrative on LNG - that it is environmentally-friendly, and the best option as we wean ourselves off coal - as disingenuous. Kudos to Mr. Wilkinson and the new Liberal administration for at least starting coming to terms with this, and for moving away from some of the more fanciful solutions to the climate crisis.

No comments: