LNG Prompts British Columbia to Recommit to Climate Targets

Photo: Reuters/Ho New / LNG production is a significant source of greenhouse-gas emissions
Photo: Reuters/Ho New

Early this week, British Columbia introduced legislation intended to limit the amount of carbon pollution that the gas industry’s proposed LNG terminals may release.

Our take: If we’re just talking about LNG plants—and not the fuel’s full production footprint—then the government is in the right ballpark.

The regulations require producers to limit their carbon release to 0.16 tonnes of equivalent carbon pollution per tonne of LNG produced; if the companies build plants that produce more than that, then they must pay offsets or into a technology fund.

The Big Emissions Picture

But let’s not forget the big picture: Even if a plant meets this standard, it will still be releasing the same pollution as adding half a million more vehicles to B.C.’s highways. We’re talking about an industry with a significant carbon footprint.

What was left unanswered on Monday, though, is “how will the government deal with the other two-thirds of the pollution created in LNG production beyond the plant’s fence line?” Even with the new standard, when we account for all that other carbon, every one of these projects that goes forward will add the equivalent of two-and-a-half million cars to our roads.

The real news of this week’ announcement was almost lost in the shuffle. In the bottom of the press release, the province re-committed to its carbon-reduction targets. The government admits that it can’t build out this proposed sector and meet its carbon-reduction targets without making deep pollution cuts in other areas. So it said it would find those cuts and make them.

Climate Action 2.0?

On Monday, the Environment Minister announced that she intends to get cracking on the problem:

We are the jurisdiction that is trying to lose ‘the last five pounds.’ We are going to have to drill down to look at more of the everyday things that we do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We already know that transportation is a huge contributor, and the built environment is as well.

This could mean restored support for electric vehicles, transit, or super-efficient buildings, or any range of other strategies that reduce emissions. It’s a commitment that helps restore climate leadership to the front burner.

From where we sit, that’s the real story of this week’s announcement—and a plum opportunity for climate and energy advocates to re-engage.

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