Vancouver Province Editorial

February 25, 2016

Vancouver Province Editorial

David Keane, Chief Karen Ogen and Tom Sigurdson: Gore’s man is wrong about BC’s LNG plans

With the recent TED conference wrapping up, and the GLOBE conference soon beginning there has been much talk surrounding global energy demand and Canada’s role.  As BC LNG Alliance members continue to move their projects forward, a vocal minority is quick to challenge British Columbia’s LNG aspirations.  The latest is Ken Berlin, president of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.   Recently, while in Vancouver, Mr. Berlin said British Columbia should abandon its plan to build a liquefied natural gas industry, calling it, “a risky idea.”  The assertion ignores the role BC could play in the global fight against climate change.

Mr. Berlin says the dropping cost of renewables will make wind and solar competitive with conventional fuels in the near future, hence BC should drop its LNG endeavors.  The US Energy Information Agency estimates presently 11% of global energy comes from renewables, and by 2040 that number will increase to 15%.  Even if you believe it could reach 25%, that still means 75% of energy demand will have to be met by traditional sources like oil, gas, and nuclear.  The scale and cost of changing energy infrastructure quickly is difficult because it’s vast and expensive.  As we deal with climate change and the rising demand for energy, greater use of renewables and new technology are always welcome, but we mustn’t forget traditional energy sources still have a significant role to play, and with natural gas being the cleanest source it will play a lead role in the transition. 

Thanks to our vast hydro-electric system, British Columbia represents a mere 0.002% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  Canada represents only about 1.6% of global GHG’s.  Our strong environmental laws, our globally leading carbon tax, combined with the toughest LNG emissions intensity benchmark in the world are unprecedented, guaranteeing Canada will develop an LNG industry to the highest environmental standards. 

We must also remind ourselves the predominant future source of greenhouse emissions isn’t BC or Canada, but Asia – home to nearly 60 percent of the world’s population and growing.  Asia’s economies are taking tens of millions of people out of poverty and with this growth comes a huge demand for energy.  The International Energy Agency estimates demand for energy could double by 2050 from its baseline just a few years ago.  Already China is producing twice the GHG’s of the United States, and that number is expected to rise by 7 percent per year for the foreseeable future.  Breathing the air in Beijing is now equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day.  If China and India increase the use of natural gas for their growing energy needs they can cut carbon dioxide emissions significantly, just like our US neighbours have done over the last few years.  By replacing coal with natural gas fired power generation we can reduce emissions by as much as 65% according to a study by Pace Global. 

As an American, Mr. Berlin is quick to advise British Columbians to abandon LNG.  Yet in his country the exact opposite is happening.  This week the United States shipped its first export cargo of seaborne LNG from the lower 48 states.  The shipment, from the Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana is historic, considering the US was expected to be an importer of LNG just a decade ago.  The shale gas revolution unlocked a cheap abundant supply of natural gas, and will help the U.S. transition from being a net importer of natural gas, mostly from Canada, to a net exporter by 2017.    U.S. investors clearly don’t view LNG as, “too risky,” considering four other projects have already broken ground. 

BC should not abandon its LNG plans, in fact on the contrary.  With its world-class natural resource base, close proximity to the large Asian market, robust environmental protection, a stable political environment, and incredibly skilled people who can build the LNG plants, British Columbia has the potential to lead the world in the fight against climate change. 

David Kean

President

BC LNG Alliance

 

Chief Karen Ogen

Wet’suwet’en First Nation

First Nations LNG Alliance

 

Tom Sigurdson

Executive Director

BC Building Trades