LNG Act makes B.C.’s climate goals harder to achieveSolutions for Climate Leadership — Part 2

Blog - July 23, 2015 - By Josha MacNab

Premier Christy Clark visits the Petronas LNG Complex in Malaysia. Photo credit: Province of British Columbia on Flickr

On Tuesday, the British Columbia government passed the LNG Projects Agreement Act. No one, including me, is really surprised. After all, developing LNG is this government’s top priority. But what I am disappointed by is just how bad this agreement is for the climate. And it didn’t have to be that way.

Over the past few months, Pembina has been drawing attention to the ways that the B.C. government could, if it must, develop LNG in ways that are less harmful. For example, see our work highlighting the difference in carbon emissions between an LNG project that is developed using better technology (5.5 million tonnes) and the project Petronas is proposing to build (10.7 Mt). Or the difference in water use between state of the art (2.6 million meters cubed) and the project Petronas is proposing to build (5 million meters cubed). By passing the LNG Project Agreement Act, the government has taken the option off the table of achieving these better outcomes.

This choice will make it increasingly difficult to deal with our climate challenge. Unless regulations are put in place to limit upstream emissions, the Petronas project would result in an additional 10.7 Mt being added to B.C.’s greenhouse gas inventory by 2030.  Our budget for 2050 is 13 Mt. B.C.’s current emission inventory is 61 Mt and projected to rise over the coming years.

The task of figuring out how to put B.C. on track to reduce the remaining emissions from across our economy to 13 Mt by 2050 was tough to start with. By passing this Act and not requiring Petronas to meet higher standards, the government has made that task a whole lot harder.

It has also considerably raised the stakes for the forthcoming Climate Leadership Plan. As the blueprint for how B.C. will reduce its emissions, the Climate Leadership Plan must demonstrate an ambitious and meaningful commitment to reduce emissions. In short, it must demonstrate leadership.

This is not impossible. B.C. has demonstrated strong climate leadership in the past. B.C.’s carbon tax was a bold step and the first of its kind in North America. The clean energy requirements meant two coal-fired generation plants were not built. If they had been, we’d be faced with the very real problem of how to deal with the additional 1.7 Mt in emissions that would have been on our books today. These were strong acts of leadership that have made tackling the climate challenge easier than it would have otherwise been.

The decision in the legislature on Tuesday does the opposite. 

Josha MacNab

Josha MacNab is the national director of policy and strategy for the Pembina Institute. She is based in Vancouver.


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