Canada’s LNG sector vulnerable on GHG perception without better methane tracking

Shell’s operations in the Groundbirch region of the Montney play. Image: Shell

One of the biggest bites ever taken out of GHG emissions in any developed country is something that environmentalists and renewable energy advocates never seem to mention.  Since 2005, energy-related GHG emissions in the U.S. have fallen by 14%.

While some of those lower emissions can be attributed to renewable energy investments, the emissions decrease was “mainly” due to natural gas displacing coal power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). When burned for power, natural gas produces 50% to 60% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than coal does.

Proponents of B.C.’s nascent LNG sector, including the BC NDP government, have therefore promoted the environmental advantage of LNG, since the biggest market is Asia, where LNG would presumably replace coal power and backstop intermittent renewable energy.

But environmentalists opposed to fossil fuels claim that “fracked gas” is as bad as coal or even worse, in terms of its global warming potential, due to fugitive methane emissions.

David Suzuki recently made the claim, accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of hypocrisy in committing to climate change targets while supporting the $40 billion LNG Canada project.

“He proudly announced approval of a $40 billion facility to liquefy fracked gas, calling it a transition fuel to help China reduce coal dependence, even though fracked gas has a carbon footprint at least as bad as coal (because of fugitive methane release),” Suzuki recently wrote.



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