A prominent economist says B.C. cannot possibly meet its own legislated targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) if it goes ahead with current plans to expand natural gas extraction and export it to Asia.
Marc Lee with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a study Wednesday taking issue with the province’s natural gas strategy, which aims to see at least three new liquid natural gas (LNG) plants built by 2020.
The report argues if that happened the province’s total emissions from gas production would rise to 35.5 Mt by 2020. Lee calculated for B.C. to stay on track under that scenario and still meet its commitment to reduce emissions by 33 per cent by 2020, the rest of the economy would have to cut down on GHGs by 81 per cent.
“It’s the same government that just five years ago brought in this law that said we’re going to get serious about climate change, and I think the first few years of that we were seeing some progress on that in terms of emissions,” Lee said.
“But the natural gas strategy, which just came out in February, is a very different path and would basically make it impossible to meet those targets.”
The report says the three new LNG plants being considered represent the equivalent of putting 24 to 64 million more cars on the road each year. All of the projects still need to complete regulatory reviews, including environmental assessments, and negotiations with First Nations in order to move forward.
The study was sent to all sitting MLAs as well as B.C.’s Climate Action Secretariat.
A spokesman for Environment Minister Terry Lake said the minister was travelling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment, but promised to release a statement later in the day.