Blog: Canada’s LNG: Act locally, think globally


We’ve come a long way since 2,500 years ago, when the Chinese used crude bamboo ‘pipelines’ to carry natural gas that seeped to the earth’s surface and used it to boil sea water to get drinkable water.

Now we have LNG Canada testing its plant at Kitimat B.C., a $43-billion project that will in 2025 begin shipping Canadian liquefied natural gas to overseas customers.

That LNG will be environmentally cleaner than LNG from many rival suppliers. And buyers can use it to generate more of their electricity, replacing coal-powered generation that produces far more emissions. That’s a necessary environmental plus.

LNG Canada will have an emissions intensity of 0.15% of carbon dioxide per tonne of LNG produced, less than half the global industry average of 0.35% per tonne.

In 2027, the $5.1-billion Woodfibre LNG project in B.C. will begin shipments (70% of its production is pre-sold) and will be the world’s first net-zero LNG export facility — 23 years ahead of government net-zero goals.

Woodfibre LNG will have an emissions intensity of just 0.04% — and that’s less than one sixth of the global industry average.

And our LNG has another advantage over U.S. LNG: The shipping distance from B.C. to prime Asian buyers is about 10 days compared to 20 days from U.S. Gulf Coast LNG plants. That means 50-60% lower emissions from ships carrying the LNG.

There is another key reason why Canadian governments should approve LNG exports: the benefits to Indigenous peoples who partner in, are involved in, or work for the projects.

Down the road we look for the Haisla Nation’s Cedar LNG project near Kitimat and the Nisga’a Nation’s Ksi Lisims project in northwestern B.C.

Cedar LNG will have an emissions intensity of just 0.08 percent of CO2 per tonne of LNG. That’s less than a third of the global average. Its plans call for emissions to be near zero by 2030.

And the Nisga’a Ksi Lisims project promises to be operating with net-zero emissions within three years of the project’s first shipment

LNG is a world energy solution; an interim solution, if you like, as the world inches toward renewable energies. But seven countries from Germany to Japan have told Canada they need and want our LNG.

Now we have a new opportunity to get in the game since U.S. President Joe Biden has placed an election-year freeze on approvals of new LNG-for-export projects.

Got all that, government?

Apparently not. The feds first set arbitrary emissions goals, and now threaten LNG and oil industries with emissions caps that the industry says will cut production.

While Canada’s governments belittle LNG exports, more than 40 countries import LNG, and Qatar has expansion plans that could give it 25% of the global LNG market, and squeeze out rivals.

Canada’s employment minister, Randy Boissonnault, told an LNG conference in Vancouver in 2023 that “the development of an at-scale LNG economy is a strategic priority for Canada.” That was the last anyone heard of that idea.

No argument: the world absolutely must bring down emissions. World emissions hit a record high in 2023, the International Energy Agency reports. Emissions in advanced economies fell to a 50-year low, but rose in China and India.

China now accounts for 35% of global carbon-dioxide emissions. The U.S. stands at 12.5% and India at 7.7%. While China has made much progress on renewables, it and India continue to burn more and more coal.

So what is achieved by Canada blocking clean Canadian LNG while Qatar, Australia, the US, and other nations will just fill the gap with higher-emission LNG, and coal?

Canada produces around 1.5% of world emissions. If we literally shut down Canada entirely (no industry, no jobs, no anything) that “saving” of 1.5% of emissions would soon be wiped out by other countries expanding the use of higher-emissions LNG or coal.

Canada’s independent parliamentary budget officer reported in 2022: “Canada’s own emissions are not large enough to materially impact climate change.”

So we have government punishing taxpayers, First Nations and industry by putting on blinkers when it comes to LNG. Ottawa views Canada as a geographical silo in which we must meet our emissions targets, regardless of what others do.

It’s long past time, indeed, to act locally — but think globally.

Karen Ogen is CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance.

Photo: Karen Ogen

(Posted here 03 April 2024)

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