New federal climate pollution data shows B.C. is failing to curb emissions
Sierra Club BC: Looming fracked LNG projects threaten provincial, national, and global climate targets
April 20, 2023
Unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-waututh) First Nations (Vancouver) — Sierra Club BC is warning that federal climate pollution data released on April 14 shows B.C. emissions increased by 1.1 percent in 2021, remaining very close to the levels of past years despite the short remaining time to meet the province’s near-term pollution reduction targets.
According to the new federal Greenhouse Gas Inventory, B.C. lowered emissions by only 2.8 percent between 2021 and 2007 (B.C.’s baseline year). This minimal progress means the province is now far behind in its goal to reduce emissions by 16 percent in 2025 and 40 percent in 2030. Meeting the 2030 target will require reducing pollution every year by about 4 percent of current annual emissions.
“Every year of failure in reducing pollution is moving us closer to even more catastrophic climate disasters and makes it even more difficult to meet targets in the remaining time. Issuing permits for new fracked LNG infrastructure at a time when alternatives are readily available is incredibly shortsighted,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “New fossil fuel projects will contribute to climate breakdown or become stranded assets soon. The open question is whether we can change course faster than the climate is now changing, after all the damage we have already caused.”
In November, the B.C. government revealed in its 2022 climate change accountability report that the province is not on course to meet its 2025 and 2030 targets, and failed to show how the province intends to achieve its 2040 and 2050 targets. It also didn’t include details on how B.C. will meet its oil and gas sector target while at the same time allowing new LNG and fracking projects. Sierra Club BC, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, took the province to court over shortcomings in climate accountability reporting, and the court agreed that progress on climate targets has been dismal.
New fossil fuel projects in B.C. have the potential to undermine some of the positive steps toward reducing emissions in other sectors of the economy that are underway. Phase 1 of LNG Canada, a fracked gas export facility under construction in Kitimat, B.C., is expected to start operations in 2025, leading to millions more tonnes of annual carbon pollution for decades to come. Phase 2 of LNG Canada and other planned or proposed LNG projects would result in further increasing climate pollution in B.C. and abroad. A new provincial energy framework announced in March fell short on details for how the province can expand fossil fuel production and meet targets at the same time.
In addition to emissions from fracking, pipelines, and liquefaction in B.C., burning fracked LNG after exporting causes even more emissions in other countries. Because of the massive total emissions from LNG projects targeting fossil fuel reserves in B.C.’s northeast, climate scientists consider this development as one of several ‘carbon bombs’ (defined as projects that will cause over 1 billion tonnes of GHG emissions during their lifetimes), threatening global climate targets.
Despite this threat to provincial and international progress, B.C.’s climate accountability reports never mention LNG terminals and associated fracking. In contrast, the latest report from B.C.’s Climate Solutions Council contains stark warnings, listing 13 ‘pitfalls in climate policy implementation,’ including “approval of new high-emission industrial projects.” The report also repeats warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) that “emissions from planned/approved fossil fuel infrastructure will exhaust the remaining carbon budget.”
“The report from B.C.’s Climate Solutions Council lays out much of what we need to see in the next provincial climate accountability report. These pitfalls need to be addressed through urgent amendments to B.C.’s climate action plans. This will assure people in B.C. that their government understands the gravity of the climate crisis and is willing to take action,” said Shelley Luce, campaigns director at Sierra Club BC. “The B.C. government needs to take bold action to ensure people and planet can thrive in the future. This requires reducing emissions rapidly, in every part of our economy, from fossil fuel production to protecting old-growth forests.”
The federal inventory and BC’s own data on provincial emissions are difficult to compare because they count emissions in slightly different ways, resulting in different sets of numbers (e.g. the federal data shows B.C.’s 2020 emissions as 58.8 million tonnes, and BC’s own data shows them as 64.6 million tonnes). Making things more complicated, the federal government revised methods and now shows all past provincial emissions as lower than one year ago (e.g. BC’s 2020 emissions stood at 61.7 million tonnes in last year’s federal inventory).
The federal data remains important because it is showing a trend: as expected, provincial emissions moved in the wrong direction during 2021, as a result of resuming business as usual after the worst chapter of the pandemic in 2020, and an ongoing lack of consistent climate action to reduce emissions in every sector and meet every target on the path to 2050, with no exceptions.
For more information, please contact:
Jens Wieting | Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner/Science Advisor, Sierra Club BC
604-354 5312, firstname.lastname@example.org
Shelley Luce | Director of Campaigns, Sierra Club BC