BC approves another LNG terminal and announces a new energy framework
Additional fracked gas production threatens provincial climate targets, energy plans could keep other countries dependent on fossil fuels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2023
VANCOUVER/UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) TERRITORIES –
The B.C. government approved the Cedar LNG project near Kitimat, while also announcing a new energy framework for the province yesterday afternoon. The latter includes developing a cap for emissions from the oil and gas sector in B.C., but not for the overall production of oil and gas, primarily for export. This means that uncounted emissions from burning fossil fuels extracted and exported from B.C. could continue to grow, even if emissions from new LNG facilities in B.C. can be reduced. The Cedar LNG project approved yesterday would produce 3 million tonnes of LNG annually, resulting in 7.8 million tonnes of emissions when burned, for comparison, the entire annual emissions of the city of Vancouver are about 6.5 million tonnes.
Like the LNG Canada project, the Cedar LNG project would be fed with fracked gas by the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Starting in 2025, LNG Canada phase 1 is expected to produce 14 million tonnes of LNG per year, which will result in 36.4 million tonnes of emissions when burned (more than half B.C.’s current annual emissions).
The new rules will require new proposed LNG facilities that are not yet approved to pass an emissions test with a “credible plan to be net zero by 2030”—meaning already-approved projects, like Cedar, are not subject to this new rule. The new rules also continue to ignore the additional emissions related to fracking, pipelines, shipping and regasification, including leakage of the powerful greenhouse gas methane. The framework will also put in place a regulatory emissions cap for the oil and gas industry “to ensure B.C. meets its 2030 emissions-reduction target for the sector,” a challenge that will become much greater in coming years with the additional growth in LNG capacity. Further, using B.C.’s electricity supply to power new LNG terminals could make it more difficult to electrify other sectors of the economy, which is key to reducing emissions here at home.
“The announcement of the new framework signals that the province is seeking to reduce climate pollution from new LNG facilities and shift from fossil fuel extraction to a clean economy mid to long-term. But the two announcements combined show that the B.C. government remains on a path of cognitive dissonance during the climate crisis, seeking to reduce emissions with one hand while increasing them with the other by issuing permits for new fossil fuel projects that are incompatible with a livable climate for present and future generations,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner. “Premier Eby said it best, before being sworn in last year: ‘We cannot continue to expand fossil-fuel infrastructure and hit our climate goals.’ This announcement has the potential to constrain future LNG capacity but it’s too early to tell whether the framework will include adequate regulation to prevent the worst impacts of the climate emergency.”
The approval of another LNG terminal is especially concerning considering B.C.’s 2022 climate change accountability report, which revealed that the province will fail to meet climate targets in 2025 and 2030. The government projects that B.C. will miss its 2025 overall emissions target by 15 percent, the same year LNG Canada, a fracked gas export facility in Kitimat, B.C., is expected to start operations, leading to millions more tonnes of carbon pollution for decades to come.
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner | Sierra Club BC
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