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BC’s climate action commitment undone by oil and gas projects, says Pembina Institute

BC's climate action

BC climate action

A new study says outdoorsy British Columbia has a dirty secret: BC’s climate action commitment has come undone.

According to non-profit think tank The Pembina Institute, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec have taken actions that will reduce their carbon pollution by 2030, but B.C. is set to see a 39 per cent increase.

A report called “How do B.C.’s climate action commitments stack up?”, written by Josha MacNab and Maximilian Kniewasser, says since the introduction of its Climate Action Plan in 2008, the BC government has stalled and carbon pollution will not meet its self-mandated emissions targets.

The study says the culprit for much of the projected increase in emissions will come from oil and has development, including including liquefied natural gas (LNG). Premier Christy Clark has been a vocal advocate of a proposed LNG facility near Prince Rupert that is backed by Malaysian energy giant Petronas. Clark argues that LNG could be a boon to the province economically and is environmentally sound.

But 130 scientists, most of whom were Canadian and have PhDs, disagreed with Clark’s assessment enough to pen a letter to Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, opposing the project. They said the science behind the decision didn’t add up.

“This letter is not about being for or against LNG, the letter is about scientific integrity in decision making,” said Jonathan Moore, Associate Professor Aquatic Ecology & Conservation at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.

The Canadian Environment Assessment Agency’s report on the matter, released in February, is fairly blunt in its assessment of the project, and it runs directly against Clark’s assertions that B.C. would be doing the world an environmental “favour” with the project.

“The Agency considers the residual volume of greenhouse gas emissions from the Project to be high in magnitude in comparison to provincial and national inventories and in comparison to other projects in Canada that emit greenhouse gases,” concludes the report.

It goes on to say the upstream greenhouse gas emissions estimate of 6.5-8.7 million tonnes CO2e per year could be characterized “similarly to the direct emissions: high in magnitude, continuous, irreversible and global in extent”, adding: “The Agency concludes that the Project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects as a result of greenhouse gas emissions after taking into consideration the implementation of best achievable technology and management practices and compliance with the B.C. Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act.

The Pembina Institute says Clark is at an environmental crossroads.

“Premier Clark has a clear choice: a strong plan that says yes to renewed climate action and a B.C. well positioned to thrive in a low-carbon world, or a weak plan that fails to protect our communities, economy and environment from a changing climate,” says Josha MacNab, the Pembina Institute’s B.C. director.

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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