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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, email@example.com
Shelley Luce | Director of Campaigns, Sierra Club BC
Join us for a webinar on why we took the B.C. government to court hosted by Sierra Club BC and Ecojustice.
Over 65 groups sign six-point letter on B.C.’s proposed Clean Transportation Action Plan.
March 23, 2023
Unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-waututh) First Nations (Vancouver) — More than 65 organizations have signed on to a six-point open letter calling on Premier David Eby and the B.C. NDP government to immediately reallocate infrastructure funds away from highway expansion toward public transit and active transportation.
Signatories include the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), HUB Cycling, Sierra Club BC, Stand.earth, Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation, University of Victoria Students’ Society, and the Amalgamated Transit Union.
“An author of this week’s IPCC synthesis report said ‘misaligned finance is holding back progress.’ And B.C.’s transportation budget needs a major realignment to fit with our provincial climate targets,” says Eric Doherty, a transportation planning consultant and member of Climate Justice Victoria. “It makes no sense to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on urban highway expansion while doing consultation on a plan to reduce traffic 25 percent by 2030. We can’t afford years of talk and pave.”
The letter urges the B.C. government to demonstrate its commitment to emergency-level climate action, human health and wellbeing, and equity and affordability.
“The Clean Transportation Action Plan cannot be just about the ridership in big urban centres, but must deliver reliable and accessible public transit to and from First Nations and small towns,” said Chief Marilyn Slett, secretary-treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “Providing safe and affordable transportation services is essential not only to reduce transportation emissions, but also to act on the Calls to Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”
The first recommendation in the letter is to “make affordable, accessible, and convenient electric public transit within and between all communities a top priority.”
The open letter also calls for prioritizing funding for projects that reallocate road space from cars to transit lanes, protected bike and roll lanes, and pedestrian priority spaces.
“Investing in active and public transportation infrastructure is key, not only to face the current climate emergency, but to create enjoyable communities and achieve mobility justice for all,” said Pablo Zacarias, executive director of Better Environmentally Sound Transportation. “People are ready for change. We have a growing population of seniors who no longer drive, families that are choosing to bike to school, and the younger generations that are just not interested in owning a car.”
The definitive IPCC Sixth Assessment Report on climate mitigation states that “transformative changes in the transport sector(…) are needed to meet climate targets.”
“It isn’t enough to just switch from fossil fuel cars and trucks to electric vehicles; B.C.’s Clean Transportation Action Plan must be transformative,” said Shelley Luce, Sierra Club BC’s director of campaigns. “It will take a lot of electric buses, bus lanes, and protected bike and roll lanes to reduce traffic by 25 percent in only seven years.”
“Rapidly electrifying the transportation sector, including trucks and buses, is essential as we build safer, cleaner, more sustainable communities,” said Logan McIntosh, SAFE Cities campaign director at Stand.earth.”And that’s exactly what we hope to see as part of B.C.’s Clean Transportation Action Plan.”
Additional groups can sign on to the open letter at bcclimateemergency.ca/sign-on until March 31. The B.C. government is accepting input on the proposed Clean Transportation Action Plan from groups and individuals until April 5.
For more information, please contact:
Eric Doherty, Transportation planning consultant and member of Climate Justice Victoria
Shelley Luce, Director of Campaigns – Sierra Club of BC
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