B.C. needs to ‘do the math’ on LNG, scientist says
The B.C. government’s plan to develop a profitable, eco-friendly liquid natural gas (LNG) industry is a pipe dream, according to veteran earth scientist David Hughes.
In a new report published by the Corporate Mapping Project, Hughes argues that the government’s assertion that B.C. LNG will help reduce emissions in Asia by displacing coal-fired power is “not accurate” — at least over the short term.
Hughes analyzed emissions data from Environment Canada’s and the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), concluding that extracting and exporting Canadian LNG to Asia “would in fact make global warming worse over at least the next three decades” when compared to new high-tech coal-fired plants in places like China.
“Over 100 years, B.C. LNG is better, but the argument is we don’t have 100 years to wait,” Hughes said.
The economic case for LNG Canada’s $40-billion investment is equally shaky, Hughes argues, pointing out that the pandemic has pushed already declining LNG prices even lower.
“Right now, the math is horrible,” he told BC Today in an interview. “It’s horrible on economics in terms of the price in Asia.”
According to the CER’s projections, B.C.’s oil and gas sector is already set to exceed the province’s 2050 emissions reduction target by more than half.
Adding emissions from the LNG Canada project would blow B.C.’s 2050 target by 160 per cent, Hughes stated — even if all other sectors of the economy reached zero emissions by then.
He argues that B.C. would be better off developing LNG for a domestic market as part of Canada’s transition to more eco-friendly power options like solar and wind.
“We’re definitely going to need the gas,” he said, adding that supplying a domestic market would cut down on the industry’s emissions footprint. “You wouldn’t have to liquefy it, you wouldn’t have to ship it. Natural gas is going to be needed domestically for decades.”