British Columbia

Promised greenhouse gas reductions from LNG projects are vastly overstated, says new report

A former government geoscientist says B.C. LNG development will push the province's emissions over the 2050 target by as much as 227 per cent.

Report calls the claim that B.C. LNG development will help reduce global emissions 'wishful thinking'

A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker near Japan. A new report from a research group called the Corporate Mapping Project says LNG production in B.C. will add to global greenhouse gas emmissions rather than reducing them through the promised goal of replacing coal in Asia. (Issei Kato/File Photo/Reuters)

A former government geoscientist says claims that B.C. liquefied natural gas exports to Asia will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions are wildly overstated.

In fact, David Hughes — who spent more than three decades working with the Geological Survey of Canada — says LNG exports will make global warming worse over the next three decades.

"Government narratives have stated that reducing Canada's emissions and expanding oil and gas production go hand-in-hand," said Hughes, who is president of a consulting firm called Global Sustainability Research. 

"Unfortunately, no amount of wishful thinking can overcome the math on emissions, or the impacts on the land surface from the increased number of well-pads, roads, pipelines and other infrastructure that would come with increased production."

Hughes' analysis appears in a new report called B.C.'s Carbon Conundrum: Why LNG exports doom emissions-reduction targets and compromise Canada's long-term energy security, published by the Corporate Mapping Project and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Those who have argued for developing B.C. LNG  for export say it will allow energy plants in Asia to stop using coal that creates even higher levels of pollution, and is therefore better for the environment overall.

But according to Hughes' report, LNG will in fact put more carbon into the atmosphere compared to coal in the critical next few decades, while pushing B.C. over its 2050 emissions target by up to 224 per cent.

B.C. has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. 

"If you look at the full-cycle emissions from production, pipelining, liquefaction, shipping and regassification in China, over 20 years, best-technology coal in China would be 18.5 per cent fewer emissions than B.C. LNG," he told CBC's Daybreak North. 

Asked about the report, Premier John Horgan said he hadn't read it but that he believes B.C. will continue to lead the country in emission reductions. 

The LNG Canada liquefaction and export facility is under construction near Kitimat on B.C.'s North Coast. Another plant is planned by Woodfibre LNG at a site near Squamish, north of Vancouver.